June 23, 2020 / 6:32 PM / 12 days ago

Croatian PM refuses to self-isolate after brief encounter with Djokovic

SARAJEVO (Reuters) - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said he would not self-isolate following his brief encounter with Novak Djokovic, the men’s world number one tennis player who tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO - Croatia's Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic arrives for the second day of the European Union leaders summit, held to discuss the EU's long-term budget for 2021-2027, in Brussels, Belgium, February 21, 2020. Ludovic Marin/Pool via REUTERS

In a statement the Croatian Public Health Institute said Plenkovic did not have to self-isolate as the risk of infection was low because he only briefly met Djokovic and was not in a close contact with him.

Three other players who played in Djokovic’s Adria Tour exhibition tournament in the Balkan region have also tested positive.

Plenkovic attended the tournament in the northern Adriatic town of Zadar on Saturday, a day before it was cancelled after Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria said he tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Croatia’s Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki also tested positive as well as Djokovic’s fitness coach Marco Panichi and Dimitrov’s coach Christian Groh.

On Monday, Plenkovic tested negative for COVID-19 but calls from opposition politicians for him to self-isolate grew stronger on Tuesday after Djokovic, whom he had met briefly, tested positive.

Plenkovic, who was on an election campaign trip in the town of Zapresic handshaking and hugging his fans, said he was not worried because his meeting with Djokovic lasted about three minutes and could not be described as a close contact.

“Under the definition of close contact this was not the close contact and everything is normal,” Plenkovic told reporters.

A video showed him talking to Djokovic in the closed court and patting his shoulder.

Plenkovic said opposition politicians wanted him in isolation to avoid the confrontation with him in television debates ahead of the July 5 parliamentary election.

Reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic; Editing by Howard Goller

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