Novak Djokovic, the world’s top-ranked male tennis player, said on Tuesday that he and his wife, Jelena, had tested positive for the coronavirus, after days of growing criticism over a tournament he organized after which other players were also found to be infected.
The exhibition tournament, called the Adria Tour, was supposed to bring some of the world’s best players to Croatia and Serbia, where Djokovic is from, and provide some welcome entertainment to tennis fans who haven’t seen professional games since March.
No one wore face masks and social distancing wasn’t enforced in the stands during the series. Besides Djokovic, at least three players and two coaches have tested positive, prompting fears among the authorities in Croatia and Serbia that the athletes may have triggered a new wave of infections.
In Zadar, a small coastal town in Croatia that had no confirmed infections until it hosted a leg of the competition, the authorities were left scrambling to trace and test people who might have come in contact with the Bulgarian player Grigor Dimitrov, who said on Sunday that he had tested positive.
Djokovic returned to Belgrade, the Serbian capital, after the tournament’s final on Sunday was called off. He caused a stir in April after he suggested that he would rather not be vaccinated against the coronavirus. The Serbian player has said he is confused about the pandemic and wanted to know what’s best for his body, while keeping an open mind.
“Everything we did in the past month, we did with a pure heart and sincere intentions,” Djokovic said in a statement. “Unfortunately, this virus is still present, and it is a new reality that we are still learning to cope and live with.”
Several top players have criticized Djokovic’s decision to organize the tournament without any safety and hygiene measures enforced. “Apparently there’s a pandemic,” Andy Roddick wrote on Twitter.
“That’s what happens when you disregard all protocols. This IS NOT A JOKE,” wrote the Australian player Nicholas Kyrgios, as he reacted to a tweet by a Croatian player, Borna Coric, announcing that he had tested positive.
The professional tennis tour has been shut down since March and will not resume until August at the earliest.