On Tuesday morning, two days after fellow Adria Tour participant Grigor Dimitrov tested positive for the coronavirus and a day after Borna Coric, Viktor Troicki and a pair of coaches did the same, Novak Djokovic revealed that he, too, has contracted COVID-19.
His statement, in full:
Novak Djokovic tested positive for a virus COVID-19. Immediately upon his arrival in Belgrade Novak was tested along with all members of the family and the team with whom he was in Belgrade and Zadar. He is not showing any symptoms.
"The moment we arrived in Belgrade we went to be tested. My result is positive, just as Jelena's, while the results of our children are negative."
Everything we did in the past month, we did with a pure heart and sincere intentions. Our tournament meant to unite and share a message of solidarity and compassion throughout the region."
"The Tour has been designed to help both established and up and coming tennis players from South-Eastern Europe to gain access to some competitive tennis while the various tours are on hold due to the COVID-19 situation.
It was all born with a philanthropic idea, to direct all raised funds towards people in need and it warmed my heart to see how everybody strongly responded to this.
We organized the tournament at the moment when the virus has weakened, believing that the conditions for hosting the Tour had been met.
Unfortunately, the virus is still present, and it is a new reality that we are still learning to cope and live with.
I am hoping things will ease with time so we can all resume lives the way they were. I am extremely sorry for each individual case of infection.
I hope that it will not complicate anyone’s heath situation and that everyone will be fine.
I will remain in self-isolation for the next 14 days, and repeat the test in five days.”
During the first two legs of the Adria Tour, Djokovic and his fellow participants were seen mingling in close proximity on numerous occasions, opting not to adhere to social distancing. There were plenty of hugs to go around upon arrival, at the press conference and after each match finished. In Belgrade, Dimitrov was photographed guarding Djokovic closely on the basketball court, and the two joined the rest of the group for some fun on the soccer field. All celebrated the success of the first weekend by partying at a nightclub, sans shirts at times. Serbian actor Milos Bikovic, who attended the outing with Djokovic that evening, also tested positive for the coronavirus.
The U.S. Embassy in Serbia states that outdoor public gatherings were limited to a maximum of 500 people as of June 5. There was incredible demand in Belgrade for Adria Tour organizers, who sold out of its first 1000 tickets on June 3, and added another 1,000 as a result. They claimed this would be done “while respecting the recommended measures of safety and appropriate social distance of at least one meter between spectators.”
That didn’t appear to be the case, though after criticism began to spread following the Belgrade portion of the event, Djokovic told Eurosport, “It’s hard to explain to people that the situation is really, really different maybe in America or the UK than it is in Serbia or surrounding countries, and obviously from the day one of the organisation of the Adria Tour, [we have been] following the rules and the measures that have been regulated by obviously the government institution and the public health institution.
“We have never crossed those lines, so we always waited for them to give us a green light whether we could or could not have the crowd, and then we asked them once we could have, how much we could have, whether there was a social distancing or not.”
According to the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN), Serbia’s reported death and infection rates do not align with the state’s COVID-19 database. BIRN found that one data set, from June 17 to 20, showed that 300 people were infected per day, far higher than the highest reported figure of 97 during that period. The outlet stated it has attempted “to contact Serbia’s health minister, the prime minister’s office, several expert members of the national Crisis Staff and many of the directors of Serbia’s clinical centres, but they either did not answer BIRN’s calls or declined to respond to questions.”
Dimitrov's manager, Georgi Stoimenov, admitted to errors in judgment on This Morning in Bulgaria. “Each of us made a mistake. We weren't as disciplined as we should have been,” he said in a translation. “We were constantly with people and maybe only 20% had the virus. All the people around Grigor have negative tests.”
Stoimenov added that Dimtrov is “recovering gradually” after arriving in Monaco unwell. The Bulgarian underwent full body tests in place of a specific one for COVID-19, before the discovering he was carrying the virus.
The remaining two stops of the Adria Tour have been canceled, which Djokovic addressed on social media Tuesday afternoon.
Reaction from around the tennis world:
A thought... pic.twitter.com/TkHiTpBmzh— Patrick McEnroe (@PatrickMcEnroe) June 23, 2020
Hi everyone! Just wanted to inform you that I have tested negative for Covid-19 and I will do another test on Friday. According to input from medical experts, I am self-isolating. Wishing everyone who tested positive a speedy recovery. ????????— Donna Vekic (@DonnaVekic) June 23, 2020
Prayers up to all the players that have contracted Covid - 19. Don’t @ me for anything I’ve done that has been ‘irresponsible’ or classified as ‘stupidity’ - this takes the cake. https://t.co/lVligELgID— Nicholas Kyrgios (@NickKyrgios) June 23, 2020
I told my water it was very handsome anyway— Tennys Sandgren (@TennysSandgren) June 23, 2020
What a mess. While wishing a speedy recovery to the players, directors of the tournaments on the calendar are racing to stress that Adria Tour was a reckless exception and the sanctioned events will be run much more responsibly....— Jon Wertheim (@jon_wertheim) June 23, 2020
We will continue to update this developing story.