World No. 1 tennis player Novak Djokovic said on Tuesday he has tested positive for coronavirus, making him the fourth infected player who was at the Adria Tour exhibition series he organized.
“The moment we arrived in Belgrade we went to be tested. My result is positive, just as Jelena’s (Djokovic’s wife), while the results of our children are negative,” a statement on his website said.
The statement said he showed no symptoms and would self-isolate for 14 days.
The second stop of the Adria Tour in Zadar, Croatia, was canceled before Sunday’s final after Bulgarian player Grigor Dimitrov reported that he was infected.
Croatian Borna Coric, Serbian player Viktor Troicki and his wife, as well as Djokovic’s and Dimitrov’s coaches, Marko Paniki and Christian Groh, have all returned positive tests.
The event scheduled for July 3-4 in Banja Luka and Djokovic’s exhibition match in Sarajevo planned for July 5 were also canceled immediately after he announced his condition.
The series started June 14-15 in Belgrade, with top-10 players Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev present. Both have said they have tested negative.
Easing of restrictions in Serbia and Croatia meant that fans could attend the matches, players did also not have to observe social distancing rules, played basketball and football together, and partied as well in Belgrade.
However, other players had raised concerns whether Djokovic’s decision to stage the event was a wise one _ before his test returned positive.
Australian Nick Kyrgios spoke of a “boneheaded decision” on Twitter and former No. 1 Andy Murray was quoted by the BBC as saying that “this is a lesson for us all.”
“Once you start having mass gatherings with people coming in from all sorts of countries, it’s a recipe for it to kick off,” Murray said.
Djokovic defended the decision to organize the Adria Tour, saying he was moved by good intentions.
“We organized the tournament at the moment when the virus has weakened, believing that the conditions for hosting the Tour had been met,” he said.
“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.”
In a late evening post to his social network profiles, Djokovic expressed regret more clearly and apparently hinted at assisting anyone infected at his events.
“I am so deeply sorry our tournaments caused harm,” he said. “We believed the tournament met all health protocols and the health of our region seemed in good condition.
“We were wrong and it was too soon, I can’t express how sorry I am for this and every case of infection,” he said.
“If you attended Adria Tour or were around any attendees, please get tested and practice social distancing. For those in Belgrade and Zadar, we will be sharing health resources in the immediate future,” Djokovic added.
Djokovic has recently also expressed mixed feelings should a vaccination become mandatory to play again in the future, and also spoke up against strict health measures planned at the U.S. Open in August and September.
Official tennis tournaments have been suspended since March. But exhibition matches behind closed doors and under strict social distancing rules have been played in Germany and other countries.