Berlin tennis event will allow 1,000 fans despite Djokovic row


Berlin (AFP)

One thousand fans will be allowed to watch a Berlin tennis tournament next month despite the controversy which has engulfed Novak Djokovic whose Balkans event left him and three other players testing positive for coronavirus.

There will be two events in the German capital -- one outdoors at the Steffi Graf Stadium and one indoors at the city's historic Tempelhof Airport.

"When we host the tournament in mid-July, there will be a strict hygiene concept that we will coordinate with the Berlin Senate," tournament director and German Fed Cup skipper Barbara Rittner told Deutsche Welle.

"We will have around 1,000 spectators at the Steffi Graf stadium and around 300 in the hangar at Tempelhof.

"It will be important to carefully observe all regulations and to test the players beforehand. This is one of the requirements for these events.

"We will treat the situation and regulations very respectfully."

Djokovic, Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki all tested positive for coronavirus after playing in the first two legs of Djokovic's ill-fated Adria Tour in Belgrade and Croatia.

Djokovic's wife Jelena also tested positive.

Around 4,000 spectators watched the Belgrade event where there was no social distancing.

Players were also photographed shirtless, dancing the night away at a packed Belgrade club.

Australian firebrand Nick Kyrgios, as well as top-10 players Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev, who both featured in the Balkans, have been signed up to take part in Berlin.

Thiem and Zverev tested negative on the Adria Tour while Kyrgios described the staging of the event as "bone-headed".

"Of course, regardless of the Adria Tour, we can also get a message at any time that a player has tested positive and cannot play," added Rittner.

"We can only ensure that the strict requirements are adhered to as correctly as possible and ensure that further planning is not jeopardised."

Rittner, a former top 30 singles player on the WTA, described Djokovic's event as "an absolute catastrophe".

"I don't understand the world they live in. For some, their success has probably gone to their heads," Rittner told Cologne-based newspaper, the Koelner Stadt-Anzeiger.

"The whole world keeps its distance and wears masks. Yet on the Adriatic Sea, people sat shoulder to shoulder without masks and partied at night."