Tennis legend, Novak Djokovic, announced Tuesday morning that he has tested positive for the coronavirus after staging and participating in the Adria Tennis Tournament, a charity exhibition recruiting the world’s most famous tennis players.
The coronavirus has disrupted the training and competitive careers of professional athletes around the world. As tennis athletes wonder when they can go back to the court, the sport has persisted through charity exhibition tournaments —most notably, the Adria Tennis Tournament, organized by tennis champion Novak Djokovic.
The Adria Tennis Tournament —supported by the Novak Djokovic Foundation— is a series of exhibition matches by the world’s finest tennis players. On June 13, its opening round began in Belgrade, Serbia to progress into the second round on June 20 in Zadar, Croatia. The tour was expected to continue in various cities throughout Eastern Europe as tennis aficionados flocked to see the matches and tickets sold out quickly despite the pandemic.
However, soon after the Adria Tour began, the Tournament became a hotspot for infection, as the athletes hugged; attended press conferences; and hung out closely together, coupled by the proximity of the fans. When tennis player Grigor Dimitrov (World No. 3) tested positive for the coronavirus, the rest of the tournament was canceled. Soon after, Borna Coric (World No. 12) and Viktor Troicki (World No. 12) reported being positive for COVID as well. Following these diagnoses, Novak Djokovic announced this morning that he and his wife tested positive for COVID-19 after he had participated in the second round three days ago.
Statement from Djokovic:
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, 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.
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.”
Novak Djokovic is a Serbian professional athlete, who is ranked the #1 tennis player in men’s single’s tennis in the world by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP). Born in Belgrade, Serbia, Djokovic has won 17 Grand Slam singles titles and consecutively captured the first place in the ATP rankings for over five years. Among an accolade of awards, he also won the 2011 BBC Overseas Sports Personality of the Year award, and the Laureus World Sports Award for Sportsman of the Year four times.
During the pandemic, the Adria Tour was sponsored and organized for a reputable cause. The tournament was organized at an opportune time at the tentative end of the first wave. In a statement, Djokovic said that the goal was “to unite and share a message of solidarity and compassion throughout the region.” According to Djokovic, the ideas for the Tour were “born with a philanthropic idea, to direct all raised funds towards people in need.”
After he canceled the tour, Djokovic said, “Unfortunately, this virus is still present, and it is a new reality that we are still learning to cope and live with.”