World No.1 Novak Djokovic has come under fire after his ambitious Adria Tour tennis roadshow was brought to a sudden halt after two competing players confirmed they have contracted the Covid-19 virus.
World No.19 Grigor Dimitrov posted a social media message on Sunday revealing he had received a positive coronavirus test, with Borna Coric also confirming his positive test after he played Dimitrov in Croatia last weekend.
"I tested positive back in Monaco for Covid-19. I want to make sure anyone who has been in contact with me during these past days gets tested and takes the necessary precautions," stated Dimitrov on Instagram.
"I am back home now and recovering. Thanks for your support and please stay safe and healthy. I am so sorry for any harm I might have caused."
Dimitrov withdrew from the tournament in Croatia on Saturday after he felt unwell, with Coric also confirming he has tested positive for Covid-19 two days after he played Dimitrov in Croatia.
Now the debate over whether a mini-tour that started with a tournament in Djokovic's Serbian homeland this month should have gone ahead at a time when the world tennis tour is shut down due to the global pandemic.
Djokovic was the frontman for the Adria Tour that allowed crowds to watch inside large arenas, with images emerging online of all the players dancing on stage in a packed nightclub while singing songs and hugging each other sparking concerns that social distancing guidelines were not being followed.
Outspoken Australian star Nick Kyrgios suggested on Twitter that Djokovic and his fellow organisers were guilty of overseeing a 'boneheaded decision to go ahead with the exhibition', yet the reigning Wimbledon champion insists he and his fellow organisers followed guidelines laid down by the Serbian and Croatian authorities.
"I know there have been some criticisms as well especially coming from the West: ‘why do we have a crowd? Why not have social distancing," Djokovic told the Eurosport Tennis Legends podcast.
"But it’s hard to explain to people that the situation is really, really different maybe in America or the UK than it is in Serbia or surrounding countries. Obviously from the day one of the organisation of the Adria Tour, we have been following the rules and the measures that have been regulated by the government institution and the public health institution.
"Of course, lots of people lost their lives because of the virus and it’s very difficult to understand how to approach, how to behave. But as athletes and tennis players we obviously want to move on and find ways in areas in the world which maybe deal with the coronavirus better than other ones and tried to organise an event - with the crowd, without the crowd, with prize money, try to get sponsors involved.
"We've never crossed those lines so we always waited for the authorities to give us a green light whether if we could or couldn’t have the crowd. Then we asked them once we could have it how much we could have, whether there was a social distancing or not. So, we’ve been through all those processes and the result of it all is amazing."
The ATP and WTA tennis tours are set to resume in August, with the US Open set to go ahead without a crowd in New York before the rescheduled French Open gets underway in Paris in September.
It remains to be seen whether the positive Covid-19 tests for Dimitrov and Coric will have an impact on the plans for tennis to return in 2020.