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 and coaches 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 Balkan nations, including Serbia, where Djokovic is from, and provide some income for the participants and 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. Players mingled freely with each other after matches and posed for photographs with ball kids and tournament officials. There was no systematic testing done for the coronavirus on the participants before the event began, according to the organizers. Besides the Djokovics, at least three prominent players — Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki — and two coaches 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 Dimitrov, a Bulgarian player who said on Sunday after returning to his home base in Monaco 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 wanted to know what is 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 announcing his positive test. “Our tournament meant to unite and share a message of solidarity and compassion throughout the region.”
He said before the event began in Belgrade earlier this month that the tour was following guidelines from local authorities by not imposing strict restrictions on player contact and by allowing spectators to attend matches.
“We organized the tournament when the virus has weakened, believing that the conditions for hosting the tour had been met,” Djokovic said Tuesday. “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 said that his two young children — Stefan, 5, and Tara, 2 — had tested negative for the virus and that he would remain in isolation in Belgrade for the next 14 days. The remainder of the tour, scheduled for Banja Luka and Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina, has been canceled.
Three other leading players who took part in the tour — Marin Cilic, Alexander Zverev and Andrey Rublev — all announced on Monday that they had tested negative for the virus but would also self-isolate for two weeks.
Djokovic, 33, is not only the top player in the world, he is also president of the ATP Player Council, which has been actively involved in planning for the return of the regular men’s tour. The tour has been shut down since March because of the pandemic and is now scheduled to resume in mid-August at the earliest. When it resumes, the plan is to do so without spectators and with strict testing and health protocols in place.
The Coronavirus Outbreak
Frequently Asked Questions and Advice
Updated June 22, 2020
Is it harder to exercise while wearing a mask?
A commentary published this month on the website of the British Journal of Sports Medicine points out that covering your face during exercise “comes with issues of potential breathing restriction and discomfort” and requires “balancing benefits versus possible adverse events.” Masks do alter exercise, says Cedric X. Bryant, the president and chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise, a nonprofit organization that funds exercise research and certifies fitness professionals. “In my personal experience,” he says, “heart rates are higher at the same relative intensity when you wear a mask.” Some people also could experience lightheadedness during familiar workouts while masked, says Len Kravitz, a professor of exercise science at the University of New Mexico.
I’ve heard about a treatment called dexamethasone. Does it work?
The steroid, dexamethasone, is the first treatment shown to reduce mortality in severely ill patients, according to scientists in Britain. The drug appears to reduce inflammation caused by the immune system, protecting the tissues. In the study, dexamethasone reduced deaths of patients on ventilators by one-third, and deaths of patients on oxygen by one-fifth.
What is pandemic paid leave?
The coronavirus emergency relief package gives many American workers paid leave if they need to take time off because of the virus. It gives qualified workers two weeks of paid sick leave if they are ill, quarantined or seeking diagnosis or preventive care for coronavirus, or if they are caring for sick family members. It gives 12 weeks of paid leave to people caring for children whose schools are closed or whose child care provider is unavailable because of the coronavirus. It is the first time the United States has had widespread federally mandated paid leave, and includes people who don’t typically get such benefits, like part-time and gig economy workers. But the measure excludes at least half of private-sector workers, including those at the country’s largest employers, and gives small employers significant leeway to deny leave.
Does asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 happen?
So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was “very rare,” but she later walked back that statement.
What’s the risk of catching coronavirus from a surface?
Touching contaminated objects and then infecting ourselves with the germs is not typically how the virus spreads. But it can happen. A number of studies of flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus and other microbes have shown that respiratory illnesses, including the new coronavirus, can spread by touching contaminated surfaces, particularly in places like day care centers, offices and hospitals. But a long chain of events has to happen for the disease to spread that way. The best way to protect yourself from coronavirus — whether it’s surface transmission or close human contact — is still social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face and wearing masks.
How does blood type influence coronavirus?
A study by European scientists is the first to document a strong statistical link between genetic variations and Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Having Type A blood was linked to a 50 percent increase in the likelihood that a patient would need to get oxygen or to go on a ventilator, according to the new study.
How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?
The unemployment rate fell to 13.3 percent in May, the Labor Department said on June 5, an unexpected improvement in the nation’s job market as hiring rebounded faster than economists expected. Economists had forecast the unemployment rate to increase to as much as 20 percent, after it hit 14.7 percent in April, which was the highest since the government began keeping official statistics after World War II. But the unemployment rate dipped instead, with employers adding 2.5 million jobs, after more than 20 million jobs were lost in April.
My state is reopening. Is it safe to go out?
States are reopening bit by bit. This means that more public spaces are available for use and more and more businesses are being allowed to open again. The federal government is largely leaving the decision up to states, and some state leaders are leaving the decision up to local authorities. Even if you aren’t being told to stay at home, it’s still a good idea to limit trips outside and your interaction with other people.
What are the symptoms of coronavirus?
Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.
How can I protect myself while flying?
If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)
What should I do if I feel sick?
If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.
How do I get tested?
If you’re sick and you think you’ve been exposed to the new coronavirus, the C.D.C. recommends that you call your healthcare provider and explain your symptoms and fears. They will decide if you need to be tested. Keep in mind that there’s a chance — because of a lack of testing kits or because you’re asymptomatic, for instance — you won’t be able to get tested.
Several top players have criticized Djokovic’s decision to organize the Adria Tour without any such measures, arguing that it not only risked public health, but sent the wrong message to the wider world. “Apparently there’s a pandemic,” Andy Roddick wrote on Twitter.
“A horror show,” said Bruno Soares, a Brazilian doubles star who is also a member of the player council, in an interview with GloboEsporte. “With the situation in the world, even if you are at the North Pole, you don’t go out and party and post the photos on Instagram.”
“That’s what happens when you disregard all protocols. This IS NOT A JOKE,” wrote the Australian player Nicholas Kyrgios.
Other players have been less critical of Djokovic directly. “It’s not Djokovic who is at fault,” said Richard Gasquet, a veteran French player, in an interview with L’Équipe on Monday. “He did not put a gun to people’s heads and demand that there be 5,000 spectators. It’s the government that chose to welcome these 5,000 people in a single site. But it’s true that all those people, it was crazy. It’s the only place in the world where we saw a crowd like that.”
Source: Tennis - nytimes.com