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The Serbian becomes the latest player who featured on the ill-advised Adria Tour last week to contract Covid-19, with events going ahead without any social distancing protocols and with full stadiums in Croatia.
Djokovic’s positive test follows similar results for Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki, who all played at events last week and joined each other in games of football, basketball and on nights out.
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In a statement issued on his official website, Djokovic confirmed that both he and his wife tested positive for Covid-19 upon returning to Belgrade from the Croatian city of Zadar, where the most-recent Adria Tour event was being held.
“The moment we arrived in Belgrade we went to be tested,” Djokovic said. “My result is positive, just as Jelena’s, while the results of our children are negative.”
The 17-time Grand Slam winner added: “I am extremely sorry for each individual case of infection. I hope that it will not complicate anyone’s health 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.”
Djokovic organised the event to take place in Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro and Bosnia, although the Montenegrin government stepped in to cancel their event and next weekend’s two-day affair in the Bosnian city of Banja Luka is now certain to be abandoned too.
However, a sellout 4,000 crowd attended both days of the Belgrade event, while a 50 per cent attendance was present in Zadar for last weekend’s tournament where Djokovic, Dimitrov and Coric all played.
Djokovic stressed that he organised the event “with a pure heart” to keep players in South-Eastern Europe match fit while global tennis is on hold due to the pandemic, but his actions has attracted significant criticism for aiding the cross-border spread of Covid-19.
“Everything we did in the past month, we did with a pure heart and sincere intentions,” Djokovic added. “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 organised the tournament at the moment when the virus has weakened, believing that the conditions for hosting the Tour had been met.
“Unfortunately, this 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.”
The tournament drew criticism from leading voices within the sport for not including any social distancing measures, with players regularly seen to be hugging each other at the net, shaking hands with each other and match umpires, and posing for photographs with numerous fans. It drew criticism this week from current Australian star Nick Kyrios and multiple Grand Slam winner Chris Evert, who questioned how the tournament can be allowed to go ahead without such measures at a time when the pandemic is ongoing.
Djokovic was helped in staging the Adria Tour by his brother Djordje, who admitted before news of the world No 1’s positive test was known that the contraction of coronavirus by numerous players was a “worst-case scenario”.
“This was the worst possible scenario,” event director Djordje Djokovic told Serbia’s Prva Television. “Novak was not obliged to take the test in Croatia as he had no symptoms. He took the test straight after his flight landed in Belgrade.
“Around 100 people were tested and I was hard-hit by news that some of them came back positive, especially my childhood friend Borna Coric. We wish all of them a speedy and painless recovery.”
Troicki did not play at last weekend’s event in Zadar, but joined Djokovic in Belgrade where he played in the first leg on 13 and 14 June.