BELGRADE. — World No 1, Novak Djokovic, has tested positive for coronavirus, along with his wife, Jelena, throwing tennis into turmoil as the sport’s official tour prepares to resume after a four-month lockdown.
They join three other leading players and two trainers infected by the disease towards the end of the Serb’s unsanctioned Adria Tour, which was aborted moments before the final in Croatia on Sunday.
Djokovic, who will go into quarantine for 14 days, said this was “the new reality”, although he had organised his tour “with a philanthropic idea” and said he was sorry for the other people who tested positive.
He declined to be tested on site and with his family flew directly to his home city, Belgrade, where he sought medical advice and was tested.
He received the results on Monday evening and issued a statement on Tuesday.
The Serb stands widely accused of complacency for organising an unofficial charity event — in Belgrade, Zadar and Montenegro (subsequently cancelled) — without safety protocols applicable in most other countries and which have prevented resumption of the main Tour until August.
Djokovic expressed regret and sympathy but little contrition in a prepared statement.
He was clearly upset that his close friend, Viktor Troicki, and the Serb’s pregnant wife, along with Grigor Dimitrov and Borna Coric — who played each other on Saturday — as well as Dimitrov’s coach and his own fitness trainer had also tested positive.
There are now genuine concerns that the rescheduled major tournaments — in New York in August and at Roland Garros at the end of September — could be postponed or even cancelled; many players, especially from Europe, South America and Asia, will be reluctant to risk their health travelling into suspect environments after these disturbing developments.
Most of the other players on the Adria Tour had tests in the team hotel in Zadar on Sunday night, and there have been no positive test results from there so far.
However, Djokovic declined to take a test at that time, because he said, “he did not feel any symptoms”.
“The moment we arrived in Belgrade [on Sunday night] we went to be tested. My result is positive, just as Jelena’s, while the results of our children are negative,” he said
Djokovic, who organised the Tour against a backdrop of lowering Covid-19 spread in the Balkans, added: “Everything we did in the past month, we did with a pure heart and sincere intentions.
‘’Our tournament was meant to unite and share a message of solidarity and compassion throughout the region.
“The Tour was 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 extremely sorry for each individual case of infection. I hope that it will not complicate anyone’s health situation and that every will be fine. I will remain in self-isolation for the next 14 days, and repeat the test in five days.” — The Guardian.