Jun 23, 2020 - Sports

Novak Djokovic tests positive for coronavirus

Novak Djokovic of Serbia is seen during a press conference
Photo: Milos Miskov/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Novak Djokovic, the world's top-ranked tennis player, announced Tuesday that he tested positive for coronavirus after facing widespread criticism for organizing an exhibition tournament that also left other players and coaches infected.

Why it matters: The fallout highlights the difficulty in returning to sports in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic — even in relatively distanced sports, like singles tennis — if safety protocols aren't strictly implemented and followed.

The state of play: The Adria Tour, organized by Djokovic across his native Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro and Bosnia, not only had the athletes in close contact with each other — including partying on nights out — but also featured big crowds and mingling with fans, the New York Times reports.

  • Bruno Soares, a member of the ATP Player Council, called the tournament "a horror show." He added that it showed "enormous irresponsibility and huge immaturity. They were totally careless, and it’s difficult for me to find the words."
  • Djokovic has also courted controversy by questioning the necessity of a coronavirus vaccine — and whether he would ultimately choose to receive one if developed.

Other players infected:

  • Grigor Dimitrov
  • Borna Coric
  • Viktor Troicki
  • Dimitrov's coach and Djokovic's fitness coach also tested positive.

What he's saying, per a press release: "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."

  • "I am extremely sorry for each individual case of infection. I hope that it will not complicate anyone's health situation."

The big picture: The U.S. Open announced last week that it would be played in New York in August and September — but without spectators and featuring robust health precautions.

Go deeper