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Tennis event organized by Novak Djokovic under fire as players test positive for coronavirus


A tennis event organized by Novak Djokovic is facing criticism after two leading players tested positive for coronavirus having played at the tournament.

World No. 19 Grigor Dimitrov and No. 33 Borna Coric both announced they had tested positive for Covid-19 after playing in the Adria Tour tournament in Zadar, Croatia, which was organized by Djokovic and swiftly canceled following Dimitrov’s positive test.

Djokovic’s agent Elena Cappellaro told CNN that the Serb has been tested and is awaiting the results, while his fitness coach Marco Panichi has tested positive but is showing no symptoms.

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The world No. 1 was set to play Andrey Rublev in Sunday’s final in Zadar, Croatia, before the cancellation was announced.

“Boneheaded decision to go ahead with the ‘exhibition,'” Australian Nick Kyrgios wrote on Twitter in response to Coric’s positive test.

“Speedy recovery fellas, but that’s what happens when you disregard all protocols. This IS NOT A JOKE.”

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The event was the second leg of a four-part exhibition series that is raising money for charity and taking place in the Balkans while the ATP Tour is postponed until August 14.

“I don’t understand … no safe distancing, total physical contact, no face masks, even the fans were without masks,” tennis great Chris Evert wrote on Twitter in response to photos of players in close physical contact over the course of the event.

According to the Croatian Institute of Public Health, there have been 2,317 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Croatia and 107 deaths.

Government guidance permits outdoor sports events, but athletes are recommended to keep two meters apart and spectators to sit one-and-a-half meters away from one another.

“I want to reach out and let my fans and friends know that I tested positive back in Monaco for Covid-19,” Dimitrov wrote on social media on Sunday.

“I want to make sure anyone who has been in contact with me during these past days gets tested and takes the necessary precautions.

“I am so sorry for any harm I might have caused. I am back home now and recovering. Thanks for your support and please stay safe and healthy.”

Croatia’s Coric then announced his positive test on Monday, saying he feels well and is not suffering from any symptoms, and Djokovic’s intended final opponent Rublev said he had tested negative and would self-isolate for 14 days.

After the opening leg in Belgrade, Serbia, earlier this month, Djokovic’s official Facebook account shared an Adria Tour post which boasted: “3 days, 9 tennis players, 13 matches, 10 thousand visitors and millions of viewers worldwide. What an amazing finale to a great weekend!’

“We have shown that the love for tennis lives in us and connects us all!”

Djokovic defended the hosting of the event before last weekend’s action got underway in Croatia.

“I know there has been some criticism as well coming especially maybe from the West of: ‘Why do we have the crowd? We don’t have the social distancing, what is going on, why are they having this kind of event in the midst of a really hard pandemic in the West?'” he said on Eurosport’s Tennis Legends Vodcast.

“But, you know, it’s hard to explain to people that the situation is really, really different maybe in America or the UK than it is in Serbia or maybe its surrounding countries.

“And obviously from day one of the organization of the Adria Tour, we’ve been following the rules and the measures that have been regulated by government institutions and health public institutions.

“So we’ve never crossed those lines, we’ve always waited for them to give us a green light whether we can have the crowd, and then we ask them how much we can have or whether there is an obligation for social distancing or not.

“We’ve been through all these processes and the result of it all was amazing.”

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While fans have been permitted to watch Adria Tour matches, the return of top-flight football has seen more strict measures implemented with Premier League, Bundesliga, Serie A and La Liga games taking place behind closed doors.

Croatia’s Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic visited the Adria Tour on Saturday, where he was pictured with Djokovic on the event’s official Instagram account.

“At all times we have strictly followed the epidemiological measures in place with the countries where the Adria Tour was organized,” said a statement from event organizers.

“None of the people involved in the organization and who have been in contact with Grigor have any symptoms. However, we are in close contact with health authorities in order to insure [sic] that all people who were in contact with Grigor Dimitrov will be tested tonight.”

In a separate post, the organizers advised anyone who had been in close contact with Dimitrov for more than 10 minutes to self-isolate for 14 days and contact their doctor.

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