World tennis No.1 Novak Djokovic is facing more backlash after videos surfaced of him partying at a Serbian nightclub with fellow players days before a coronavirus outbreak at his event.
A minute-long video shows Djokovic dancing shirtless next to several players, including Grigor Dimitrov, who became the first big name in the tennis world to test positive for COVID-19.
Along with Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev, they were filmed jumping up and down on stage at Croatia’s Lafayette Cuisine Cabaret Club, which was the first stop on Djokovic’s Adria Tour exhibition tournament.
The video, which has racked 60,000 views on Twitter, has drawn criticism after Borna Coric revealed he was the second high-profile player to test positive after attending Djokovic’s organised event.
Djokovic’s fitness coach, Marko Paniki, and Dimitrov’s coach, Christian Groh, have also tested positive.
Djokovic is also under fire for trying to leave Croatia without first getting tested. He initially decided he would wait until he returned to Serbia to consult his doctor.
In a statement, Adria Tour’s organisers said Djokovic believed it was unnecessary to get tested in Croatia because he had no symptoms.
“Novak did not feel any symptoms or anyone from his environment, including the professional staff, so he did not go for testing now,” the statement read.
“After arriving home in Belgrade, he will contact the epidemiologist, and he will continue the procedure to his doctor according to the recommendations of the medical service.”
The world no.1 has since agreed to a coronavirus test. But he might have already failed the pub test, with fans and rivals slamming his apparent failure to show leadership during a pandemic.
Critics have been quick to point out social distancing was not enforced during the charity event – and evidently not during the off-court entertainment.
Australian tennis player Nick Kyrgios condemned his rival’s “boneheaded” decision to hold the charity event, particularly after it failed to ensure social distancing among spectators.
He took to Twitter on Monday to remind fellow professionals that the COVID-19 pandemic that has shut down tennis is not to be taken lightly.
“Speedy recovery fellas, but that’s what happens when you disregard all protocols. This IS NOT A JOKE.”
Dan Evans, Britain’s top-ranked male tennis player, said Djokovic should accept responsibility.
“I don’t think he should be having a players’ party and dancing all over each other,” he said.
“Two very good tennis players have tested positive. He should feel some responsibility in his event and how it’s transpired, really.”
Coric assured his fans on Twitter that he was not feeling the effects of the virus, saying “I’m feeling well and don’t have any symptoms”.
Dimitrov earlier revealed his positive test, saying: “I want to make sure anyone who has been in contact with me during these past days gets tested and takes the necessary precautions”.
“I am so sorry for any harm I might have caused. I am back home now and recovering. Thanks for your support and please stay safe and healthy.”
The final of the event, which would have featured Djokovic and Russian Andrey Rublev, was cancelled.
AFL game marred by coronavirus
Back home, sporting codes are weighing up how to get back to playing safely amid the pandemic.
The AFL was cancelled Essendon’s Sunday clash with Melbourne after player Conor McKenna tested positive for the virus.
Essendon is expected to learn on Tuesday the immediate future of its playing list after all players were tested following McKenna’s diagnosis.
Health authorities are also determining who was in close contact with McKenna. Those who were will be forced to quarantine for 14 days.
Authorities are examining training footage given to them by Essendon to decide which players will need to join McKenna in isolating.
Essendon’s first-choice back-line could be ruled out for at least two weeks, with Adam Saad, Cale Hooker, Michael Hurley, Matt Guelfi, Jordan Ridley and Mason Redman reportedly in McKenna’s training group.
The AFL is pushing for Essendon’s Saturday night clash with Carlton to go ahead as long as the Bombers have 25 available players.
But Essendon is hoping for leniency if a large chunk of its best-22 is forced out of the match because players had contact with McKenna.