It is by a simple press release that Novak Djokovic caused stupor in the world of tennis. The world number 1, one of the big stars of his sport, announced Tuesday afternoon that he had tested positive for coronavirus. The Serb became the fourth player to be infected in a few hours after Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki. The origin of these positive cases: the Adria Tour, an exhibition tournament organized by Novak Djokovic himself in the Balkans. Problem, no measure of social distancing had been taken, nor any health protocol. And "Djoko" finds itself at the heart of a lively controversy which could well permanently damage its image.
Since the start of the coronavirus crisis, Novak Djokovic has increased the number of controversial statements. "Personally, I am opposed to the vaccination against Covid-19 to be able to travel. But if it becomes compulsory, I will have to decide if I do it or not", he had explained in April. The man with 17 Grand Slam titles also promoted a friend's business on Instagram, claiming he can purify water through thought.
He then shone by his absence during the videoconference organized by ATP in early June to talk about the resumption of the circuit, frozen since March. Some 400 players participated, but not him, their main representative as president of the Players' Council.
The Serb also strongly criticized the health protocol of the US Open (August 24-September 13), which he considered "extreme". Measures such as around 14 days on arrival of players on American territory, limited access to the courts for training, only one member of staff per player and a limitation of travel around the Flushing Meadows stadium, with in particular the accommodation of all participants in hotels in Queens and not in Manhattan is under study. Novak Djokovic had confided to the Serbian media that he planned to zap the tournament, before finally moderating his remarks.
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A tournament organized without barrier gestures or physical distance
While the tennis world is still at a standstill, Novak Djokovic has organized an exhibition tournament in the Balkans, which started on June 13. The physical distance was not respected there, evidenced by the warm handshakes between the players, but also the full stands.
Novak Djokovic, Grigor Dimitrov, Domonic Thiem and Borna Coric had also been seen in a nightclub in Belgrade.
Nightlife in Belgrade with Djokovic, Thiem, Zverev, Dimitrov, Serbian players ..
Video: @ hotsportsrbpic.twitter.com / Rf3gURzHng
A week later, Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric, Viktor Troicki and Novak Djokovic all tested positive for coronavirus. Marin Cilic and Andrey Rublev, who also participated in the Adria Tour, decided to isolate themselves for two weeks so as not to take any risks.
Strong criticism inside the tennis world
Now, Novak Djokovic finds himself facing criticism from other players on the circuit. While the result of his test was awaited, the American Tennys Sandgren had chambered the Serb on Twitter: "If Novak does not catch the Covid, I begin to bless my water with positive waves".
Australian Nick Kyrgios, who never carried the Serbian in his heart, said: "Prayers for all the players who contracted Covid-19. Do not mention me for what I could do with irresponsible or who could be called stupid. There, that goes beyond everything. "
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Fears for the resumption of the ATP circuit
The consequences of the Adria Tour could now shake up the entire tennis world, which was just beginning to anticipate a resumption of the circuit on August 14 in Washington, before the US Open. Which players will be able to play? Which players will dare to take the risk of playing? What measures will tournament organizers impose on them? Which players will accept these likely enhanced sanitary measures? So many questions that could further increase the pressure, already very strong, on Novak Djokovic.