Austrian tennis star Dominic Thiem insists that criticizing world No. 1 Novak Djokovic for what happened at the Adria Tour is unfair as the Serb had good intentions and the permission from the government to proceed with the event.
After returning to Serbia following a two-month quarantine in Spain, Djokovic launched the Adria Tour as his goal was to visit four countries in the Balkans with his project and bring some of the biggest players of the game.
17-time Grand Slam champion Djokovic invested a lot of money to make the event possible but announced that all the money raised at the event would be donated to charities. Unfortunately for Djokovic, the event ended in disaster as the organizers decided to call off the rest of the Adria Tour after four players tested positive for the coronavirus.
Thiem, who participated in the opening leg of the Adria Tour in Belgrade, made it all the way at the event after beating Serbian Filip Krajinovic in the final. The Austrian didn't participate in the second leg of the Adria Tour in Zadar, which had no winner since the final between Djokovic and Andrey Rublev was called off due to coronavirus concerns.
"It was unfair to him because he didn't break any law and he didn't force us," Thiem told CNN Sport's Patrick Snell. "He didn't force any player to come there. He didn't force any player to interact with the fans.
"It was our own decision. The whole event was for a very good cause as well."
Thiem admits mistakes were made
Players shook hands, hugged and played contact sports together, while the crowd was packed out in Belgrade and Zadar.
Djokovic received a lot of criticism after the opening leg of the Adria Tour but that was nothing compared to the harsh criticism he started receiving after several players tested positive for the coronavirus a week later.
"It was obviously a mistake from everybody but it's a long time ago now really and everybody who got positive there is healthy again, which is a very good sign as well," he said, before adding that everybody had learned from their mistakes.
"In reality, we saw happy fans, we saw happy kids and then we kind of forgot to keep the distance, to not take pictures, to not hug the kids and it was a mistake. "Everybody regrets it, of course, but I think, at the same time, it's fine now."