World #1 Novak Djokovic has become the latest casualty of the Adria Tour, testing positive for coronavirus. Yesterday, world #19 Grigor Dimitrov, who played in both the Serbian and Croatian legs of the Tour, revealed that he had tested positive for the virus, raising concerns that the virus would spread amongst the rest of the players on the tour, and their support staff, after social distancing was ignored throughout the event.
Those fears have proven to be well-founded, with Borna Coric, Viktor Troicki and now Djokovic amongst those confirmed to have caught the virus. The fallout from the event has already taken a heavy toll on Djokovic’s prestige, with many calling for the Serbian to step down from his role as president of the ATP Council. The Adria Tour, begun with great fanfare at Djokovic’s academy in Belgrade, certainly now appears at best ill-judged.
Djokovic, and the other infected players, now face a race to be fit in time for the resumption of the tennis season in August. The spread of the virus though the ranks of the Adria Tour competitors has raised some concerns that it will not be possible to hold the US Open in late August as proposed, but this currently seems unlikely, as strict regulations are set to be enforced in North America, unlike in Serbia and Croatia.
But the disastrous Adria Tour will now serve as an example of how not to conduct an exhibition during the pandemic, particularly if the virus is confirmed to have spread amongst spectators. That remains a possibility, with the source of Dimitrov’s infection an unknown. Questions will also doubtless be raised over Djokovic’s actions since the Bulgarian announced his infection, with the world #1 appearing to have departed Croatia without being tested.
Djokovic, who confirmed that his wife Jelena also tested positive, has stated that the Adria Tour was held ‘with a pure heart and sincere intentions’ in order to give young players from south-eastern Europe play competitive tennis during the pandemic. Whilst that is laudable, there is no escaping the reality that Djokovic made a serious error in judgement and the Serbian apologised for that, adding that he hoped the spread of the virus would not ‘complicate anyone’s health situation’.
However, that apology, coming after a significant delay and cross-border travel, may well prove to be too little too late to save Djokovic’s position as the president of the ATP Council. But the priority now for the Serbian, and all those infected, will be rest and recovery, with Djokovic set to spend the next two weeks in self-isolation.
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