World No. 1 Novak Djokovic has come under intense scrutiny for hosting a tennis exhibition tournament — Adria Tour in Serbia and Croatia in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The final of the Adria tour, which was scheduled for Sunday in Croatia, was cancelled after it came to light that Grigor Dimitrov tested positive for Covid-19. Djokovic was scheduled to take part in the final of the tournament in Zadar.
More than 4,000 fans attended the tournament in Belgrade and as many people turned up to watch the action in Zadar over the last weekend. Serbia relaxed its restrictions and the tournament followed government guidelines but it was slammed on social media after players were seen ignoring social distancing norms at a time when no professional tennis has been hosted since March due to the pandemic.
Dimitrov, who lost to Borna Coric, looked worn out during his defeat to the Croatian player on Saturday.
On Tuesday, Borna Coric confirmed he tested positive for Covid-19, making him the 2nd player who participated in the exhibition tournament to contract the novel coronavirus. Notably, Dimitrov was spotted putting his hands over Coric before their match on Saturday.
A video of Novak Djokovic partying with fellow tennis players, including Grigor Dimitrov and Alexander Zverev, in Belgrade, Serbia went viral after the news of Grigor Dimitrov’s positive Covid-19 test was out on Sunday.
— THE JOKER(S) (@NBASerbians) June 15, 2020
Djokovic organised the charity event over two weekends in Belgrade and Zadar in lieu of the ATP and WTA tournaments cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Several top tennis players, including Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev, flew to the Balkans to take part in the Adria Tour exhibition tournament.
Social distancing rules were flouted as players were seen hugging,k shaking hands during matches and attending large gatherings over the two weekends. Djokovic was slammed after the video of them partying at a night club emerged. A video of Dimitrov playing basketball with the rest of the players, including Djokovic, also emerged.
Novak Djokovic organised a Tennis Tournament called “Adria Tour” at Belgrade.. Freaked out.. Partied.. Now Grigor Dimitrov who played there tests positive for COVID 19.. Jeopardises resumption of WTA & ATP Tours which were to resume from August. @ranjonahttps://t.co/S5W4yKNrsP
— Anirban Roy (@AnirbanFromRLF) June 21, 2020
Don’t need the 20-20 hindsight of Grigor Dimitrov’s positive COVID-19 test, to say that Novak Djokovic had — at very best — a reckless attitude to the pandemic at his tournament in Belgrade last week. pic.twitter.com/a6JklCfXm1
— Ali Walker (@AliWalker24) June 21, 2020
Novak Djokovic responds to criticism
Djokovic had reacted to the crisitim while speaking to Europost Tennis Podcast saying the organisers of the Adra Tour have been following guidelines set by local governments in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“I know there have been some criticisms as well especially coming from the West: ‘why do we have a crowd? Why not have social distancing?” Djokovic had said.
“But it’s hard to explain to people that the situation is really, really different maybe in America or the UK than it is in Serbia or surrounding countries, and obviously from the day one of the organisation of the Adria Tour, [we have been] following the rules and the measures that have been regulated by the government institution and the public health institution.”
Boneheaded decision: Kyrgios slams exhibition tournament
Following the positive Covid-19 tests of Grigor Dimitrov and Borna Coric, Australia star Nick Kyrgios took to social media to slam the ‘bone-headed’ decision to go play tennis in the times of the pandemic.
“Boneheaded decision to go ahead with the ‘exhibition’ speedy recovery fellas, but that’s what happens when you disregard all protocols. This IS NOT A JOKE,” Kyrgios wrote on social media.
The organisers of the US Open will be watching the developments with bated breath as several players have already voiced their concerns over travelling to New York for the tournament which is scheduled to be held from August 31 to September 13 in front of empty stands.