The Slatest

Anti-Vaxxer Novak Djokovic Contracts Coronavirus After Hosting Tennis Exhibition

A row of men standing at the net of a tennis court, Djokovic on the far right.
Players pose for photos during Novak Djokovic’s Adria Tour charity exhibition. Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images

World No. 1 tennis player Novak Djokovic announced he had tested positive for the coronavirus Tuesday, making the Serbian the fourth player to contract the virus following a charity event Djokovic himself hosted over the past week. Djokovic, a high-profile anti-vaxxer, hosted the Adria Tour, an exhibition event in Serbia and Croatia that did not even pay lip service to social distancing. “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,” according to Sky News. “Djokovic organized nights out in Belgrade for the players and pictures and videos of him dancing with the other participants at his event were posted on social media.”

Dimitrov guards Djokovic, who is dribbling the basketball
Serbia’s Novak Djokovic and Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov at an exhibition basketball match in Zadar, Croatia, on Thursday. Stringer/Getty Images

Djokovic and his wife tested positive Tuesday after three other players in the event contracted the virus—Croatia’s Borna Coric, Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov, and Serbia’s Viktor Troicki—forcing the Balkan exhibition to be called off. Troicki announced Monday that his pregnant wife had also tested positive. Several other participants in the event, including Alexander Zverev, Marin Cilic, and Andrey Rublev, said they had tested negative but would self-isolate for 14 days. Australian Nick Kyrgios called hosting the tournament a “boneheaded decision.”

“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,” Djokovic said of the event. “We organized the tournament at the moment when the virus has weakened, believing that the conditions for hosting the Tour had been met. … I am extremely sorry for each individual case of infection. I hope it will not complicate anyone’s health situation and everyone will be fine.”

The ATP Tour has been on hold since February due to the virus, but is set to restart in August ahead of the U.S. Open in New York. Earlier this spring, Djokovic balked at the prospect of mandatory vaccination for COVID-19 to resume play on the tennis tour. “Personally, I am opposed to vaccination, and I wouldn’t want to be forced by someone to take a vaccine in order to be able to travel,” Djokovic said in April.