Amid public backlash for hosting the controversial Adria Tour and reckless partying in the middle of a pandemic, Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic and his wife Jelena have tested positive for coronavirus.
“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,” the world No. 1-ranked player said in a translated statement on Tuesday.
“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.”
Three other players — Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki — had tested positive for coronavirus, leading to the cancellation of Djokovic’s charity tournament. Dimitrov’s coach, Chris Gro, and Djokovic’s fitness coach, Marko Paniki, had also previously tested positive for coronavirus.
Djokovic, who has previously stated he is opposed to vaccination, will be in isolation for the next 14 days, and plans to re-test in five days.
“I am extremely sorry for each individual case of infection,” he said. “I hope that it will not complicate anyone’s health situation and that everyone will be fine.”
The 33-year-old drew ire from the tennis community for holding the charity exhibition tournament, including from Australia’s Nick Kyrgios — who has been against the restart of tennis — and Britain’s Dan Evans, who said on Monday that Djokovic “set a poor example” and “should feel some responsibility in his event and how it’s transpired.”
“We organized the tournament at the moment when the virus has weakened, believing that the conditions for hosting the Tour had been met,” Djokovic said. “Unfortunately, this virus is still present and it is a new reality that we are learning to cope and live with.”
The tournament kicked off in Djokovic’s hometown of Belgrade — before shifting to Croatia — and he was quickly criticized for implementing minimal social distancing and organizing trips to night clubs.
“You can also criticize us and say this is maybe dangerous. But it’s not up to me to make the calls about what is right or wrong for health. We are doing what the Serbian government is telling us,” Djokovic said at the opening ceremony.
The entire event was forced to be called off after Dimitrov and Cornic both tested positive after their match. Djokovic was slated to play Dimitrov in the finals.
The Serb star also drew scrutiny for a video that surfaced depicting reckless partying at the Lafayette Cuisine Cabaret Club in Belgrade. Also in attendance to this indoor fete were Dimitrov, Alex Zverev, Dominic Thiem, Filip Krajinovic, Dusan Lajovic and Jelena Jankovic.
It is unclear if the rash of positive tests will affect the US Open, which announced plans last week to go forward with the late-summer event without fans. Djokovic has been among those critical of the US Open, not because of potential health risks, but because the protocols put in place would only allow one member of his entourage on the Flushing Meadows grounds with him.
“I am hoping things will ease with time so we can all resume lives the way they were,” Djokovic said.