Blame game begins over who caused coronavirus outbreak at Novak Djokovic event


The alarming outbreak of Covid-19 at Novak Djokovic's Adria Tour event has now been followed by a finger-pointing exchange between Djokovic's father Srdjan and Grigor Dimitov's agent over where the infection might have stemmed from.

When Srdjan accused Dimitrov of being the source, Peter Stoimenov - who is Dimitrov's agent - suggested that the tournament organisers were "the ones responsible for the safe running of the event".

There was also an intervention from Nick Kyrgios, who has been the most vocal locker-room critic of the Adria Tour. Writing on Twitter, Kyrgios posted an image of Srdjan accompanied by his quotes on Dimitrov and said: "Nah bruh don't push the blame."

In an interview with a Croatian broadcasting channel, Srdjan said: "Why did it all happen? It happened because the man [Dimitrov] came sick from who knows where."

According to Srdjan's narrative, Dimitrov could have been what epidemiologists call a "super-spreader", having flown in to Belgrade in time for the start of the Adria Tour on June 13.

Yet this was hardly the only possible explanation, especially given the intermingling of athletes from other sports with the tennis players. Nikola Jankovic was one of several basketball players who tested positive after a derby match between Red Star and Partizan, which Djokovic attended on June 10.

Another positive test was confirmed on Wednesday involving a Serbian basketball player - this one named Nicola Jokic, an all-NBA centre who plays for the Denver Nuggets and has now been forced to delay his return to the USA. According to reports, Jokic spent time with Djokovic at the Belgrade leg of the Adria Tour.

Stoimenov replied that "Grigor landed directly in Belgrade after three months complete isolation. Neither in Belgrade or later in Zadar [the Croatian city that hosted the second leg of the Adria Tour] was he offered or required to test for coronavirus."

He added: "The event organisers are the ones responsible for the safe running of the event and creating rules to follow. Grigor strictly respected all the rules imposed by the organisers of the tournament and the existing laws and regulations in the crossing of the border between Bulgaria, Serbia and Croatia."

World No 19 Dimitrov is understood to have remained in California between the cancellation of Indian Wells on March 8 and his flight to Belgrade. He then made a brief visit to his home town of Haskovo in Bulgaria between the Belgrade and Zadar legs of the Adria Tour. As yet, there are no reports of an outbreak of Covid-19 in Haskovo.

Four players - namely Dimitrov, Djokovic, Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki - have now tested positive, along with two coaches and Djokovic's wife Jelena. In a statement released on Tuesday night, Djokovic said: "I am so deeply sorry our tournament has done harm."

Another Balkan news outlet, Sportske Novosti, interviewed the medical director of the Croatian Tennis Association, Dr Igor Boric. "I contacted Dimitrov, although only by phone," said Dr Boric. "He came to me through some channels and addressed me on Thursday morning regarding the pain he felt in his elbow.

"He didn't tell me anything about it [any viral symptoms], so I don't even have information about it."

Dimitrov does not seem to have been completely asymptomatic, at least by the end of his time in Zadar. He was clearly feeling under the weather by the end of Saturday's match with Coric, which he lost comfortably. He did not shake hands afterwards, even though that had been normal practice throughout the rest of the Adria Tour.

Dr Boric also criticised spectators at the matches in Zadar, saying: "There were too many people in the stands and the audience had poor self-control when it came to distance and hand disinfection. All days except the finals there was just enough room in the stands to create enough space, but people didn't stick to that."


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