The remainder of the Adria Tour, scheduled to head to Montenegro this week, is now very much in doubt. But the response over the lack of social distancing — which included pickup basketball and a group photo with ball kids — from some in the tennis community has been swift and severe.
“I sum it up as a horror show,” Bruno Soares, a member of the ATP Player Council, of which Djokovic is president, said in an interview with the Brazilian news outlet GloboEsporte. “Enormous irresponsibility and huge immaturity. They were totally careless, and it’s difficult for me to find the words.”
No paragon of self-restraint, Kyrgios has been suspended from the tour for misbehavior and fined frequently. But in this health crisis, he has urged tennis to take a conservative approach, as he also criticized the recent decision to hold the 2020 United States Open on its originally scheduled dates.
But the U.S. Open and the regular tour events that will precede it are to be played without spectators and with strict social distancing requirements. There have been no such limits on the Adria Tour, in part, as Djokovic has explained, because local authorities did not require them. Serbia and neighboring countries have had comparatively few positive coronavirus cases and reported deaths.
Even before Dimitrov and Coric tested positive, there was concern about the optics of full stadiums and partying players with so many still suffering worldwide.
“You’ve got to be aware of who you are and leading by example,” said Patrick McEnroe, an ESPN analyst and former player who has recovered from the coronavirus, referring to Djokovic. He added that it would be “hard to imagine” another top player, like Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer or Serena Williams, holding a similar tour.
When the men’s and women’s tours shut down in March because of the pandemic, Djokovic was undefeated on court in 2020, but he has hardly been on a winning streak during the extended break. He has incited controversy by questioning the necessity of an eventual coronavirus vaccine and explaining that he would have a hard decision to make if getting one were required by the tour. When the U.S. Open announced its plans to protect players from the virus by limiting the size of entourages and restricting players’ movement, Djokovic was an outspoken critic of the idea, calling the plan “extreme” and questioning whether he would play.