Dominic Thiem issued an apology on Thursday after taking part in the Adria Tour — Novak Djokovic’s charity event that was canceled early after several players tested positive for COVID-19.
Thiem, who is currently ranked No. 3 in the world, was one of several players to participate in the exhibition event, which started at Djokovic’s tennis center in Belgrade, Serbia, and later moved to Croatia.
Djokovic, his wife Jelena, Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki all tested positive after playing in the event — which was full of fans — causing it to be canceled early.
Though he tested negative for the coronavirus five different times, Thiem apologized on Instagram for his and his fellow players’ actions.
“I was shocked when I got the news from the Adria Tour,” Thiem wrote, in part. “We played without any audience for weeks, so we have been more than happy about the fans at the event. We trusted the Serbian government’s corona rules, but we have been too optimistic.
“Our behavior was a mistake, we acted too euphorically. I am extremely sorry.”
Djokovic has been heavily criticized for hosting the tournament amid the global pandemic, especially as it didn’t require masks and seemingly had no social distancing requirements. Players were frequently seen out at bars, posing for pictures together, playing basketball and more.
Djokovic has also publicly slammed the U.S. Open for its “extreme” and “impossible” safety measures related to the coronavirus, and said that he’s “opposed to vaccination.”
There were more than 9.5 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus worldwide as of Thursday night, according to The New York Times, and more than 484,000 deaths attributed to it. Serbia had just 13,372 confirmed cases and 264 deaths, and Croatia had fewer than 2,500 cases.
Thiem won the Belgrade leg of the tournament, though didn’t go on to play when it moved to Croatia. When he got the news that it was canceled, he said he was “shocked.”
While the 26-year-old apologized for his part in the charity event, his manager felt very differently.
“I have to give the main blame to Djokovic,” Thiem’s manager, Herwig Straka, told Der Standard, via Sporting News. “OK, the others took part, but he was very behind it. Originally from honorable motives — the focus was on the charity concept. But it went in the wrong direction, was misused as a publicity show. You have to blame Djokovic for that.
“Everyone knows it was stupid. The only one who has to apologize is Djokovic because he staged everything.”
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