Tennis star Novak Djokovic, 33, has tested positive for Covid-19, days after he played in a controversial exhibition tournament he organised in the Balkan region during the pandemic. His wife also tested positive, but their children tested negative.
The world number one is the fourth player to test positive for the virus after competing in the Adria Tour. Tennis players Borna Coric of Croatia, Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria and fellow Serbian Viktor Troicki also tested positive for the virus.
Djokovic, who has previously said he was against taking a vaccine for the virus even if it became mandatory to travel, released a statement on Tuesday confirming he had contracted Covid-19 before apologising about going ahead with his tournament.
“The moment we arrived in Belgrade we went to be tested,” he wrote on Instagram. “My result is positive, just as Jelena’s, while the results of our children are negative.”
Djokovic continued: “I am so deeply sorry our tournament has caused harm. Everything the organisers 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 how sorry I am for this and every case of infection.”
The 33-year-old has been widely criticised for organising the tournament. After Djokovic revealed his positive result, Nick Kyrigios was quick to call out the tennis player for recently dancing topless at a party in Belgrade, Serbia, which showed a complete disregard for social distancing.
“Prayers up to all the players that have contracted Covid-19,” Kyrgios wrote on Twitter. “Don’t @ me for anything I’ve done that has been ‘irresponsible’ or classified as ‘stupidity’ — this takes the cake.”
Prayers up to all the players that have contracted Covid – 19. Don’t @ me for anything I’ve done that has been ‘irresponsible’ or classified as ‘stupidity’ – this takes the cake. https://t.co/lVligELgID
— Nicholas Kyrgios (@NickKyrgios) June 23, 2020
British tennis player Andy Murray also hit out, saying on Tuesday: “Obviously it’s not surprising how many players have tested positive when you see the scenes and the images and the videos from the tournament and the players party with no social distancing in place.”
However, others jumped to the tennis star’s defence, with one fan writing on Instagram: “Don’t apologise! You did nothing wrong! The tests are not completely accurate.” Another added: “[Novak] you are amazing; don’t even listen to the haters, it’s obvious that with the information you had anyone would have continued with the tournament.”
The news comes after Djokovic revealed in a live Facebook chat earlier this year that he’s an anti-vaxxer and would have to seriously consider his decision if he was required to be vaccinated in order to compete.
“Personally, I am opposed to vaccination and I wouldn’t want to be forced by someone to take a vaccine in order to be able to travel,” he said. “But, if it becomes compulsory, what will happen? I will have to make a decision. I have my own thoughts about the matter and whether those thoughts will change at some point, I don’t know.”