Unforced Error: Tennis star Novak Djokovic should have done better as a sports icon than defy good sense on Covid-19

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Published: June 24, 2020 6:05 AM

The Adria Tour did help some top-class players from the region showcase their talent in front of fans—who had gathered in large numbers—but at a significant cost.

Not only did two players (other than Djokovic) test positive, the coach of one of the infected players, Djokovic’s fitness coach and his wife did too.Not only did two players (other than Djokovic) test positive, the coach of one of the infected players, Djokovic’s fitness coach and his wife did too. (File image)

Tennis ace Novak Djokovic, who has just tested positive for corona, would find his Adria Tour misadventure hard to live down. When he first spoke of his grand tennis spectacle—to be held in four Balkan cities, over four weekends between June 12 and July 5—many sane voices had advised against it, given the Covid-19 pandemic. The Serbian tennis star, the current world number 1, however, rebuffed such advice, pleading, among other things “better (Covid-19) numbers compared to other countries” in the region. He even blithely said “life goes on”—263 Serbs have died of the disease so far—and that, it is not his place to take calls on matters relating to public health. The call did get taken, with the tournament getting cancelled abruptly only after it emerged as a corona-hotspot.

The Adria Tour did help some top-class players from the region showcase their talent in front of fans—who had gathered in large numbers—but at a significant cost.

Not only did two players (other than Djokovic) test positive, the coach of one of the infected players, Djokovic’s fitness coach and his wife did too. And, the less said about the reckless festivity that the event represented—with players partying in nightclubs—at a time when the pandemic has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives across the globe. Andy Murray, as cited in a column by Kevin Mitchell in The Guardian, didn’t have harsh words for his friend, Djokovic, but his sane advice should have perhaps reached Djokovic before the fiasco: “When you are going through a time like this, it is important that any of the top athletes around the world should be showing that we are taking this extremely seriously”. Indeed, even the Olympics have been postponed to next year.

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