Novak Djokovic has apologised and admitted he was wrong to organise the Adria Tour events in Serbia and Croatia after becoming one of four players to test positive for coronavirus.
The world No 1’s positive test was announced yesterday afternoon, with Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki also contracting Covid-19.
In a statement, Djokovic said he and his wife Jelena, who also tested positive, are currently asymptomatic and will self-isolate.
“I am so deeply sorry our tournament has caused harm,” he said. “Everything the organisers and I did the past month, we did with a pure heart and sincere intentions.
“We believed the tournament met all health protocols and the health of our region seemed in good conditions to finally unite people for philanthropic reasons.
“We were wrong and it was too soon. I can’t express enough how sorry I am for this and every case of infection.”
Djokovic travelled from Zadar, Croatia to his home in Serbia before being tested for the virus.
He confirmed the rest of the tournament had been cancelled and prayed for everyone to make a full recovery.
“If you attended Adria Tour or were around any attendees please get tested and practise social distancing. For those in Belgrade and Zadar, we will be sharing health resources in the immediate future,” Djokovic added.
“The rest of the tournament has been cancelled and we will remain focused on all those who have been affected. I pray for everyone’s full recovery.”
The event, which took place in front of crowds with little evidence of social-distancing, was criticised by other players.
Nick Kyrgios called the decision to stage the event “boneheaded” while British No 1 Dan Evans described it as “a poor example to set”.
Reacting to the news of Djokovic’s positive test, the controversial Australian posted an apparent clip of a party held during the tournament and tweeted: “Don’t @ me for anything I’ve done that has been ‘irresponsible’ or classified as ‘stupidity’ – this takes the cake.”
Djokovic has been in the news frequently in connection to the Covid-19 outbreak, which led to the suspension of the ATP and WTA professional tours in March. Plans were announced last week for the sport’s sanctioned events to return in August.
In April, the 17-time Grand Slam champion was criticised for saying he would not want to take a vaccine for the virus in order to be able to compete, even if it were mandatory for travel.
In May, when he was staying in Spain, Djokovic broke local lockdown rules by practising at a tennis club about a week before it was allowed.
More recently, Djokovic complained about the US Tennis Association’s plans to try to protect people from the virus during the US Open with such measures as limiting the size of players’ entourages, the 33-year-old going so far as to say he didn’t know whether he would go to the tournament in New York. The US Open is scheduled to begin on 31 August without spectators, and the French Open – postponed from May – is supposed to start on 27 September.
Djokovic found himself defending the lax arrangements of his Adria Tour exhibitions, which were meant to raise money to help those affected by the pandemic but where the stands were packed and players casually interacted with fans and each other off the court.
Djokovic and other players were also seen hugging each other and partying in nightclubs and restaurants.
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