British tennis player Dan Evans says Novak Djokovic should put his hand up and accept responsibility after Grigor Dimitrov and Borna Coric tested positive for COVID-19 while participating in his Adria Tour exhibition tournament.
The tournament, which also featured top names such as Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev, was held in Belgrade and Zadar in Croatia and the players were also pictured playing basketball and dancing together without following social distancing protocols.
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Djokovic's own coronavirus test results will be announced late on Tuesday evening (AEST) after which he will address the public, Serbian media reported on Monday.
“I don't think he should be having a players' party and dancing all over each other,” British No.1 Evans said ahead of Jamie Murray's behind-closed-doors 'Battle of the Brits' tournament that begins in London on Tuesday.
“Two very good tennis players have tested positive. He should feel some responsibility in his event and how it's transpired, really.
“It's very unfortunate that Grigor has it and Coric has it but you strip it back, is it a surprise? I think that's the question we should all ask.”
Dimitrov and Coric played against each other in Zadar and were seen putting their arms around each other at the net.
Australian star Nick Kyrgios had earlier condemned the decision to hold Djokovic's charity event in Croatia
Kyrgios took to Twitter on Monday night to remind fellow professionals, in his own blunt way, that the COVID-19 pandemic that has shut down tennis is not to be taken lightly.
“Boneheaded decision to go ahead with the 'exhibition',” the Australian posted.
“Speedy recovery fellas, but that's what happens when you disregard all protocols. This IS NOT A JOKE.”
🤦🏽♂️🤦🏽♂️🤦🏽♂️ Boneheaded decision to go ahead with the ‘exhibition’ speedy recovery fellas, but that’s what happens when you disregard all protocols. This IS NOT A JOKE. https://t.co/SUdxfijkbK— Nicholas Kyrgios (@NickKyrgios) June 22, 2020
American tennis great Chris Evert also criticised the organisers for the lack of social-distancing, saying “... total physical contact, no face masks, even the fans were without masks.. I don't get it.”
Serious concerns as tennis tries to restart
Two of the players’ trainers have also reportedly tested positive, raising serious concerns for tennis governing bodies in their bid to restart the sport after a lengthy shutdown.
The professional circuit was halted in early March as nations closed borders and imposed lockdowns to contain the spread of the virus.
Last week the men’s ATP and the WTA, which runs women’s events, issued revised calendars for the resumption of the circuit from August while organisers of the US Open said the Grand Slam will be staged without fans as scheduled from August 31 to September 13 in New York.
However those plans could need to be redrawn with Coric and Dimitrov’s cases highlighting the risks of athletes from different countries mixing without adhering to social distancing norms.
The tournament witnessed packed stands during the opening leg in Belgrade, players hugging at the net, playing basketball, posing for pictures and attending press conferences together.
Djokovic organised nights out in Belgrade for the players and himself and pictures and videos of him dancing with the other participants at his event were posted on social media.
With both Serbia and Croatia easing lockdown measures weeks before the event, players were not obliged to observe social distancing rules in either country.
“It is recommended that anyone who has been in close contact for more than 10 minutes with the tennis player be advised to self-isolate for 14 days and to contact their doctor,” the event organisers said in a statement on Monday.
With international tennis suspended, Djokovic organised the Adria Tour as a charity event to be contested over four legs across the former Yugoslavia.
Djokovic's fitness coach Marco Panichi also tested positive, Serbian daily Sportski Zurnal reported, quoting Croatia's health institute.
Zverev, Croatia's Marin Cilic and Russian Andrey Rublev - who all played at the Adria Tour - said they tested negative for the virus but will follow self-isolation guidelines.
with agencies and Yahoo Sports staff