Novak Djokovic tested positive for the coronavirus on Tuesday after taking part in a tennis exhibition series he organised in Serbia and Croatia.
The World No 1 ranked Serb is the fourth player to test positive for the virus after first playing in Belgrade and then again last weekend in Zadar. His wife also tested positive.
“The moment we arrived in Belgrade we went to be tested. My result is positive, just as Jelena’s, while the results of our children are negative,” Djokovic said in a statement.
Djokovic has been criticized for organising the tournament and bringing in players from other countries amid the coronavirus pandemic. There were no social distancing measures observed at the matches in either country.
Fellow Serb Viktor Troicki said earlier on Tuesday that he and his pregnant wife had both been diagnosed with the virus. Current world No 19 Grigor Dimitrov, a three-time Grand Slam semifinalist from Bulgaria, said on Sunday he had tested positive. The fourth player diagnosed with COVID-19 was Borna Coric (ranked 33rd), who played Dimitrov on Saturday in Zadar.
Djokovic was the face behind the Adria Tour, a series of exhibition events that started in the Serbian capital and then moved to Zadar. He left Croatia after the final was cancelled and he was tested in Belgrade.
He said he will remain in self-isolation for 14 days and also apologised to anyone who became infected as a result of the series.
The tennis star defended his reasons for holding last week’s tournament, despite the subsequent coronavirus outbreak.
“Everything we did in the past month, we did with a pure heart and sincere intentions. Our tournament meant to unite and share a message of solidarity and compassion throughout the region”, his statement said.
Djokovic added that it was aimed at helping up and coming players from southeastern Europe deprived of competitive play during the pandemic.
“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.
“We organised the tournament at the moment when the virus has weakened, believing that the conditions for hosting the Tour had been met,” Djokovic said.
“Unfortunately, this virus is still present, and it is a new reality that we are still learning to cope and live with.”