3 Lessons The Adria Tour Taught Us

1. Guidelines Must Be Followed If Tennis Is To Return

If only one thing is to be learned from the Adria Tour, this would be it: Guidelines are put in place for a reason. 

Novak Djokovic, Goran Ivanisevic, the Adria Tour officials, or any of the participating players for that matter did not intend for several people to contract COVID-19. Several players and coaches contracting the virus was never their intentions, however, it was in no way an unforeseen circumstance. 

Coming into the tournament, the participants understood the risk they were going to be taking and decided to participate anyways. On top of this, the allowance of fan participation was encouraged and many people warned organizers of the risks.

Here is a great video from beIN SPORTS Asia of Novak Djokovic talking about the decision to play the tournament:

But, to put the cherry on top, players not only embraced each other after matches, but also partied with several members of the community. Not to mention the several other sporting activities they participated in including soccer and basketball. These activities not only put themselves and other adults at risk but children too. 

So, when health officials set guidelines such as minimal contact during play, testing daily (sometimes several times daily), excluding fans and large crowds, and other guidelines, they are meant to be followed. 

If we want tennis to return in a safe, timely manner, we have to pick our battles wisely. Acting irresponsibly during a tournament, no matter how small, will inevitably affect the ability of larger tournaments to be played.

If you are interested in the guidelines the CDC suggests, here is a link to their page for youth sports guidelines. Although it is slightly different than professional sports, many of the same guidelines still apply.

2. There Are No World No. 1’s Of Virus Evasion

After news broke that Grigor Dimitrov had tested positive for COVID-19 after withdrawing from his match during the Adria Tour, the tour canceled that night’s championship event.

Following this, the tournament officials announced that all players who had participated in the tournament would be tested at their hotel. Additionally, any players who had played in the previous event of the tour, which Dimitrov played in as well, would need to be tested. 

Both of these decisions, albeit too little too late, gave some hope that the tournament was going to take this matter seriously. However, that all changed when it was announced that Novak Djokovic went back to his hometown of Belgrade without being tested. 

Then, two days after Dimitrov’s positive test, it was announced that Novak and his wife Jelena had tested positive for the virus. The way they handled this situation, traveling without a negative test result, is inexcusable, and is a bad look for tennis. 

Whether you are the No. 1 ranked player in the world or the No. 1000 ranked player in the world is irrelevant to spreading a virus. Nobody should get special treatment during these events and everyone must be required to test before going anywhere.

3. Tennis Is A Game, Life Isn’t

After announcing that he had contracted the virus, Novak Djokovic stated that his wife, Jelena, had also contracted it. Luckily, their children did not come down with it and are healthy. 

Djokovic said in a statement, “I am extremely sorry for each individual case of infection. I hope that it will not complicate anyone’s health situation and that everyone will be fine.” (If you would like to read the full statement you can do so here)

Although I am sure he is truly sorry for putting these people at risk, it doesn’t seem as if he regrets organizing the tournament. And, maybe he shouldn’t, he really was trying to do a great thing for tennis and its players. 

But, at the end of the day, tennis is a sport and is not worth the risk of an untreatable virus. It’s understandable to say that Dimitrov, Djokovic, and the others who have contracted the virus from the Adria Tour so far will likely be alright. They are all in great physical condition and have immune systems that will fight the virus off well. 

Still, the truth of the matter is that not everyone is in this condition and when you allow thousands of people to attend an event you must consider everyone’s health and safety.

Don’t Ruin A Good Thing

At some point, tennis will return like it once was and COVID-19 will be nothing more than an after-thought. Yet, if that’s tomorrow, two weeks from now, or two years from now remains unknown. 

Nonetheless, tennis is worth the wait. Seeing our favorite players competing at our favorite tournaments is all we want. But, that can’t happen until the health and safety of the players, coaches, tournament officials, and fans is certain. 

So, why ruin a good thing by turning it into a bad thing? Sometimes the hardest thing to do is wait, but it’s the right thing. 

Tennis will return in all its glory, just not tomorrow. For now, make a bag of popcorn, pour yourself a glass of your favorite drink, and enjoy your favorite classic match. The more we learn from our mistakes, the more we grow. 

PS: If you’re having trouble deciding which match to watch here is a great one:

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