Dimitrov, Coric get coronavirus after ‘reckless’ charity event

Tennis event organised by men’s top-ranked player Djokovic had been criticised for lack of safety precautions.

Adria Tour
Matches in Serbia last weekend were played without restrictions, with ball kids handing players towels, players signing autographs as well as taking selfies with fans [Marko Djurica/Reuters]

Top tennis players Grigor Dimitrov and Borna Coric have tested positive for the coronavirus after taking part in a charity event organised by top-ranked men’s player Novak Djokovic.

Bulgarian Dimitrov pulled out of the regional exhibition tournament – which had sparked criticism for lack of safety precautions – in Croatia on Saturday following his opening singles match against Croatian Coric, after feeling unwell.

The event’s Sunday final was cancelled as a result.

“I want to … let my fans and friends know that I tested positive … for COVID-19,” Dimitrov wrote on Instagram on Sunday.

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

Coric, who beat Dimitrov handily on Saturday, revealed on Monday that he had tested positive for COVID-19 as well, but was feeling well and did not have any symptoms. 

Fans who had gathered to watch the final between Djokovic and Russia’s Andrey Rublev on Sunday broke into jeers as the cancellation was announced courtside.

“Unfortunately, we had to make the decision as we don’t want anybody else to catch the virus,” said Goran Ivanisevic, director of the tour’s Zadar leg and Djokovic’s coach, who made the announcement.

Djokovic’s younger brother Djordje, the director of the series, said everyone who has been in contact with Dimitrov would be tested for COVID-19.

“After receiving the news, we took all the measures stipulated by the Croatian government and everyone who has had any contact with Grigor will be tested,” he said in a courtside interview on Sunday.

With the professional tennis tour suspended until mid-August because of the coronavirus pandemic, some big names, including world number three Dominic Thiem, former US Open champion Marin Cilic and Germany’s Alexander Zverev, were competing in the Adria Tour – a four-weekend regional tournament.

With both Serbia and Croatia easing lockdown measures weeks before the event, players were not obliged to observe physical distancing in either country and embraced at the net at the end of their matches.

Thiem won the opening leg in Belgrade, where a capacity 4,000 crowd turned up each day at Djokovic’s tennis centre by the Danube river.

Fans in Croatia, however, were subject to distancing rules, meaning the 9,000-capacity Visnjik tennis complex was only half-full for the event.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies