Novak Djokovic has tested positive for coronavirus following an exhibition event he organized in Croatia.
The Adria Tour, which took place in Zadar last weekend, has been mired in controversy after the final was canceled following Grigor Dimitrov’s positive test.
Djokovic, the world No.1 tennis star who was scheduled to play in Sunday’s final, confirmed Tuesday that both he and his wife Jelena had also tested positive for Covid-19 upon returning home to Serbia, while his children’s results were negative.
The 17-time grand slam champion said he was sorry that the tournament had caused harm and acknowledged “we were wrong and it was too soon.” He said that the organizers would be sharing health resources with those who attended the events in Belgrade, Serbia, and Zadar, Croatia.
“I am so deeply sorry our tournament has caused harm. Everything the organizers and I did the past month, we did with a pure heart and sincere intentions. We believed the tournament met all health protocols and the health of our region seemed in good condition to finally unite people for philanthropic reasons. We were wrong and it was too soon. I can’t express enough how sorry I am for this and every case of infection,” he said in the statement published on his Twitter account.
“If you attended the 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. The rest of the tournament has been canceled and we will remain focused on all those who have been affected. I pray for everyone’s full recovery.”
Earlier, Djokovic defended organizing the four-stage charity event hosted in the Balkans in a statement on his website.
“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,” said the tennis star.
“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.”
Djokovic added that he would remain in self-isolation for the next 14 days and have another test in five days’ time.
With the ATP Tour suspended until August 14, the Adria Tour started in Serbia earlier this month and both events have taken place with fans in attendance.
The eight players competing in Zadar last weekend were photographed in close physical proximity, posing for photos and playing basketball together. Croatian Borna Coric confirmed he had also tested positive for coronavirus.
Fellow player Nick Kyrgios called the decision to host the Tour “boneheaded,” while tennis great Chris Evert pointed out the lack of social distancing between players.
“Everything we did in the past month, we did with a pure heart and sincere intentions,” Djokovic’s statement also said in regards to the Adria Tour.
“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 Southeastern Europe to gain access to some competitive tennis while the various tours are on hold due to the Covid-19 situation.”