Novak Djokovic isn’t just a tennis legend, he’s also revered back in Serbia. The fact he tested positive for Covid-19 after an exhibition tour in the Balkans is a blow to his country’s national pride and its efforts to keep the disease under control.
The announcement follows Sunday’s abrupt end to the Adria Tour after players including Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria — a semifinalist in the 2019 U.S. Open — and Borna Coric of Croatia tested positive for coronavirus. While the tournament was permitted under looser virus restrictions, in the region, participants raised eyebrows by flouting social distancing and attending nightclubs.
“I’m extremely sorry for each individual case of infection,” Djokovic said in a statement emailed by his public-relations company. “I hope it won’t complicate anyone’s health situation and that everyone will be fine. Our tournament meant to unite and share a message of solidarity and compassion throughout the region.”
The world knows him as the top-ranking tennis champion but the outbreak among the sport’s elite risks denting Djokovic’s image as the region’s poster child. While proud of his homeland, Djokovic has been a rare bridge for many Balkan states, with many — including Serbia — still struggling to recover from the bloody wars of the 1990s.
Nick Kyrgios, the second-highest-ranked Australian player, joined other sportsmen in rebuking the tournament on Twitter.
“Boneheaded decision to go ahead with ‘the exhibition,”’ he said. “That’s what happens when you disregard all protocols. This is not a joke.”
The incident comes mere days after an important election in Serbia, which imposed one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns, and had delayed the vote to contain the pandemic.
When it finally took place on Sunday, with President Aleksandar Vucic’s party scoring a thumping win, there was a sense that the country and region had turned a new chapter. Vucic campaigned also on his track record of containing the virus. Now, that assessment seems premature with many nations on edge, waiting for a second outbreak.
The reality that’s emerging is that social-distancing rules were often ignored during campaigning, such as when a deputy prime minister dived off a stage into a crowd of supporters.
Serbia has reported 13,092 cases of coronavirus and 263 deaths.
Media criticized the tennis event — and Djokovic himself — for embracing few virus restrictions and for holding parties in Belgrade alongside the tournament, where matches were held in Serbia and Croatia before dates in Bosnia and Herzegovina were canceled.
Djokovic said that while he’s displaying no symptoms of the virus, he’ll self-isolate for 14 days and be tested again in five days. His wife, Jelena, also tested positive while their children’s tests were negative.
Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, who met Djokovic at the tournament, is refusing to isolate, saying the pair only spoke for two to three minutes with no close contact and that he tested negative on Monday.
Serbian player Victor Troicki and his wife also tested positive.
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QuickTake is a series by Bloomberg which is tagged “Global news the world needs today.” Bloomberg L.P. is a privately held financial, software, data, and media company headquartered in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. It was founded by Michael Bloomberg in 1981, with the help of Thomas Secunda, Duncan MacMillan, Charles Zegar, and a 12% ownership investment by Merrill Lynch.
The Balkans , also known as the Balkan Peninsula, is a geographic area in southeastern Europe. The region takes its name from the Balkan Mountains that stretch throughout the whole of Bulgaria from the Serbian–Bulgarian border to the Black Sea coast. The Balkan Peninsula is bordered by the Adriatic Sea in the northwest, the Ionian Sea in the southwest, the Aegean Sea in the south, the Turkish Straits in the east, and the Black Sea in the northeast. The term has acquired a stigmatized and pejorative meaning related to the process of Balkanization, and hence the preferred alternative term used for the region is Southeast Europe.
Croatia, officially the Republic of Croatia, is a country at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe on the Adriatic Sea.
Croatia was first internationally recognized as an independent state on 7 June 879 during the reign of Duke Branimir. On 25 June 1991, Croatia declared independence and the Croatian War of Independence was fought for four years following the declaration.
A sovereign state, Croatia is a republic governed under a parliamentary system. It is a member of the European Union, the United Nations, the Council of Europe, NATO, and the World Trade Organization and is a founding member of the Union for the Mediterranean.
Croatia is classified by the World Bank as a high-income economy. Croatia provides social security, universal health care, and tuition-free primary and secondary education.
Novak Djokovic is a Serbian professional tennis player who is currently ranked world No. 1 in men’s singles tennis by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP).
Djokovic has won 17 Grand Slam singles titles, the third-most in history for a male player, five ATP Finals titles, a record 36 ATP Tour Masters 1000 titles, 14 ATP Tour 500 titles, and has held the No. 1 spot in the ATP rankings for a total of 289 weeks (second of all time). In majors, he has won a record eight Australian Open titles, five Wimbledon titles, three US Open titles, and one French Open title. By winning the 2016 French Open, he became the eighth player in history to achieve the Career Grand Slam and the third man to hold all four major titles at once, the first since Rod Laver in 1969.
Nicholas Hilmy Kyrgios is an Australian professional tennis player. As of March 2020, he is ranked No. 40 in the world in men’s singles by the Association of Tennis Professionals and is the second highest-ranked Australian in the ATP rankings.
Bosnia and Herzegovina, sometimes called Bosnia–Herzegovina and often known informally as Bosnia, is a country in South and Southeast Europe, located within the Balkans. Sarajevo is the capital and largest city.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is bordered by Serbia to the east, Montenegro to the southeast, and Croatia to the north and southwest. It is not entirely landlocked; to the south it has a narrow coast on the Adriatic Sea, which is about 20 kilometres (12 miles) long and surrounds the town of Neum.
The inland Bosnia region has a moderate continental climate, with hot summers and cold, snowy winters. In the central and eastern interior of the country the geography is mountainous, in the northwest moderately hilly, and in the northeast predominantly flatland. The smaller southern region, Herzegovina, has a Mediterranean climate and mostly mountainous topography.