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'He didn't break any law,' says Dominic Thiem as he defends Novak Djokovic after controversial Adria Tour

World number three Dominic Thiem recently took part in the controversial Adria Tour event, which received criticism after multiple players tested positive for coronavirus, and now is set for the U.S. Open. Thiem spoke with Patrick Snell after his bett1 Aces exhibition win in Berlin.

Posted: Jul 22, 2020 2:40 AM
Updated: Jul 22, 2020 2:40 AM

World No. 3 Dominic Thiem has said recent criticism of Novak Djokovic for his part in organizing the controversial Adria Tour in June is unfair.

A host of stars, including world No.1 Djokovic, tested positive for Covid-19 after competing in the tournament, which attracted large crowds and had limited social distancing in place, with players hugging and high-fiving each other, playing basketball and dancing together.

Djokovic, who bore the brunt of the widespread backlash, has since apologized for his involvement in hosting the event in the Balkans, saying in a statement he was "deeply sorry our tournament had caused harm."

Fellow professional Nick Kyrgios said hosting the event was "boneheaded" and criticized other players, including Thiem, for taking part.

Despite now admitting the tournament -- initially scheduled to be played in four cities from June 13 through July 5 -- was a mistake, Thiem says Djokovic was only trying to do something positive.

"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."

The tour had attracted three-time grand slam finalist Thiem, world No. 7 Alexander Zverev of Germany and three-time major semifinalist Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria, among others. Djokovic's 24-year-old brother, Djordje, was named tournament director.

On June 21, it was announced Dimitrov had tested positive for coronavirus and organizers swiftly canceled the entire series. Troicki would later test positive, as would Croatia's Borna Coric, Djokovic, his wife, Jelena, and others.

Thiem says the players got carried away with the joyous occasion which, at the time, looked at odds with the local government advice to stay one meter apart.

"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."

READ: Kyrgios calls Becker a 'doughnut' after being labeled a 'rat'

US Open

Thiem recently played in, and won, the Bett1Aces tournament in Berlin -- an event which adhered to social distancing guidelines and was partly played in an old airport hanger.

He's now turned his focus to the US Open, which is due to take place behind closed doors at the end of August.

The Austrian says he has no concerns about participating in New York and says the competition in Berlin can be an example of how to stage an event safely.

"If it's going to happen, I'm very sure that it's safe and that I'm also going to play because I guess it's time that the normal tour is coming back," he said, admitting it will be hard to play a grand slam without thousand of fans in the stadium.

"It's tough to imagine but, at the same time, it is how it is and we have to deal with it.

"I think the main thing is that the tour, and the tennis, slowly comes back."

A number of high-profile players have raised doubts about whether the US Open should go ahead this year but organizers are content with the safety precautions in place.

They received a boost when Serena Williams confirmed she would play at Flushing Meadows and now sister Venus has expressed her wish to be involved.

"God willing you will see me in New York. If it is safe to play, I really want to play the US Open," Venus said on her YouTube channel.

READ: 'I absolutely experienced racism in and out of tennis,' says former Wimbledon finalist

Coronavirus support

Like many sports, tennis has been hit hard by the global pandemic, with many events and tournaments canceled.

It has been particularly hard for those lower-ranked players who struggled to make a living during lockdown.

Djokovic, the president of the ATP Player Council, had called for players to contribute to a fund set up by the game's governing bodies but Thiem initially did not want to be involved -- believing his donations would be better served elsewhere.

He has since clarified his comments, saying that whilst he does support lower-ranked and junior players, he wants to choose who deserves his support.

"What I said is that there are guys on the Future Tour who are not living professionally," he added.

"That's what I said. And there are guys who don't deserve the support and I'm never going to change my opinion."

"There are many, many guys who deserve it and that's my opinion. But, well, the media back then put it wrong and I hope that I can put it a little bit in the right place now."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 291222

Reported Deaths: 6577
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19470226
Hinds18555383
Harrison16385273
Rankin12498260
Jackson12401216
Lee9635160
Madison9353193
Jones7836144
Forrest7055135
Lauderdale6735225
Lowndes5989137
Lamar579379
Lafayette5688113
Washington5124128
Bolivar4567120
Oktibbeha438091
Panola424092
Warren4091113
Pearl River4070127
Pontotoc406066
Marshall397992
Monroe3971125
Union391372
Neshoba3746166
Lincoln343799
Hancock337773
Leflore3346118
Sunflower315785
Tate299172
Pike297792
Scott291367
Alcorn289760
Itawamba288471
Yazoo282662
Tippah275265
Copiah273357
Coahoma272265
Simpson269278
Prentiss267158
Leake250870
Wayne250140
Marion249478
Covington246277
Grenada244576
Adams232374
George229545
Newton222551
Winston220174
Tishomingo210965
Jasper210343
Attala205669
Chickasaw200250
Holmes181470
Clay177348
Stone170729
Tallahatchie169039
Clarke167671
Calhoun155327
Smith151131
Yalobusha141936
Greene126333
Walthall123040
Noxubee122429
Montgomery120537
Perry120133
Lawrence118420
Carroll117123
Amite110632
Webster108629
Jefferson Davis99831
Tunica97923
Claiborne97329
Benton92524
Humphreys91226
Kemper89222
Quitman76614
Franklin75319
Choctaw69316
Wilkinson62226
Jefferson60827
Sharkey48817
Issaquena1676
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 488973

Reported Deaths: 9660
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson703321342
Mobile35725716
Madison32088437
Tuscaloosa23913404
Montgomery22369481
Shelby21714209
Baldwin19554263
Lee14827147
Morgan13529243
Etowah13091309
Calhoun13063281
Marshall11197202
Houston10019255
Limestone9303130
Elmore9283179
Cullman8856176
St. Clair8747214
Lauderdale8541209
DeKalb8419173
Talladega7424161
Walker6466240
Jackson6450101
Autauga614384
Blount6058125
Colbert5973118
Coffee522299
Dale4606106
Russell400530
Franklin396575
Covington3918105
Chilton380096
Escambia375970
Tallapoosa3533138
Clarke342348
Dallas3385139
Chambers3382102
Pike292471
Lawrence280685
Marion277492
Winston244563
Marengo243454
Bibb243259
Geneva238168
Pickens223453
Barbour208450
Hale208064
Fayette198755
Butler194865
Henry181741
Cherokee175737
Monroe165538
Randolph161240
Washington155832
Crenshaw143052
Clay142554
Macon140344
Cleburne136139
Lamar130632
Lowndes130148
Wilcox120525
Bullock116033
Conecuh106423
Perry104927
Sumter98231
Greene86732
Coosa86323
Choctaw54723
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