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Novak Djokovic and his experiments with stupidity

The news of Djokovic being infected with COVID-19 has not come as a surprise for the majority, but what's shocking is how naive the tennis world number one has been!

Last updated: 26.06.2020
Novak Djokovic and his experiments with stupidity | Sports Social Blog

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To put it frankly, the news that anybody has treated positively for the coronavirus is no reason for gloating. And one can only hope that all those who have been infected with the virus in connection with Novak Djokovic's Adria Tour will suffer no ill-effects and will soon return to full health. 

But Djokovic's being tested positive does raise one question: how naive and stupid can he be? While the virus has been doing the hard-work traveling places to infect new patients. It has been the other way round in this case, with the world number one, providing a perfect environment for the spread of the virus. 


In pic: Djokovic talking to children in Zadar, Croatia

Djokovic invited a few of his friends to a series of tournaments in Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina at a time when all the major events of the ATP Tour remain on a forced break. And what was his aim behind all these: to get into match practice with a few fellow professionals and get back into playing shape - while at the same time collecting donations for a good cause - or simply to have a bit of fun. Let's first understand what's the buzz all about.

Adria Tour 2020: calling for trouble

Raising concerns about the full-fledged return of tennis including the US Open planned for August, Djokovic is the fourth player to come down with COVID-19 after participating in matches held in Belgrade and Zadar, Croatia. The others being three-times Grand Slam semi-finalist Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric, and Viktor Troicki. 

In pic: (from left to right) Alexander Zverev, Novak Djokovic, Grigor Dimitrov, and Dominic Thiem. Djokovic and Dimitrov have been tested positive

"We believed the tournament met all health protocols and the health of our region seemed in good condition to finally unite players for philanthropic reasons," Djokovic said in a social media post on Tuesday. " We were wrong and it was all too soon." 

But what he didn't mention in the tweets: there has been regular hugging, back-slapping, interactions with fans like it was the sunny days of 2019. And in between a few matches, players were seen visiting night clubs, doing the limbo and dancing the night away as if the pandemic could be waved away like the cigarette smoke. Were they all immune? They were rich, bored and sick of isolation measures, so the logic says yes. 

The rest of the Adria Tour, which was supposed to head to Bosnia next, was called off. 

The perfect environment for the spread of COVID-19

Novak Djokovic was apparently having a lot of fun, partly because he arrogantly ignored all conventional anti-corona hygiene measures. Spectators sat close to each other and that too without masks. The players hugged each-other, posed - again without masks - with groups of children for photos, signed autographs in crowds, and then went on to party together in a club with at least hundreds of other people. There were loud music and close dancing, with some even taking off their shirts. The result was a mixture of warm air in an enclosed space, sweat, saliva droplets, and aerosols. In short, the perfect environment for the spread of COVID-19. 

Players' reactions

This situation has taken the world of tennis by storm. And there have been several tweets from the former and current players on this issue. 

Nick Krygios, whose own behaviour on the court has often come under focus, has made a series of tweets against Djokovic's 'boneheaded' decision. He tweeted a video of Djokovic and others from the tournament partying and dancing, a clear beach of social distancing norms, saying nothing he has done in his colourful career can match what Djokovic and the players who responded in his invitation have done. 

Andy Murray, who also returned to the court on Tuesday, in an exhibition tournament in London, which has far Stricter social distancing norms in place, hit out at the Adria Tour initiative, saying it has given tennis a bad image. 

In pic: Novak Djokovic poses with volunteers after the match in Belgrade, Serbia

"Yikes.. this is not good and it's a pattern… Hope Novak will be okay of course! What now, US Open? Roland Garros? We have a lot of work to do." Tennis legend Martina Navratilova. 

Brazil's Bruno Soares, a doubles player, summed up the whole situation in his tweet, "With the situation in the world, even if you are at the North Pole, you don't go out and party and post the photos on Instagram."

Possible consequences for future events

However, the Adria Tour disaster could have far-reaching consequences, beyond the current players, fans and other parties involved who have been exposed to. The organizers of other supporting events must be pulling their hair out as Djokovic paved over the relaxed coronavirus restrictions. 

In view of what happened in Croatia, can you really imagine a Tour de France with spectators this year? Or how about other events in which it is difficult to cordon off the site? Isn't there a danger that the authorities in different countries will look to ban rather than allow major sports events to go ahead?

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