BANGKOK (Reuters) - Tennis titans Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic met with Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha on Friday and visited the site of a deadly Bangkok bomb blast.
World number one Djokovic and Nadal, a 14-times grand slam champion, are in Thailand for a sold-out exhibition match aimed at boosting confidence in safety following the August attack which killed 20 people, including fourteen foreigners.
The blast, the worst incident of its kind in Thai history, has taken a toll on the country’s important tourism industry, which had just begun to recover after political protests last year.
The pair visited the Erawan shrine, the scene of the explosion, and placed flower garlands at the site amid pouring rain.
Earlier, Nadal and Djokovic, wearing pale blue and yellow traditional Thai silk jackets, gave tennis racquets to Prayuth and chatted to the premier through an interpreter. Prayuth asked the two to help promote Thai tourism.
“We are very pleased to have world-class tennis players in Thailand,” said Prayuth. “We hope you will help boost confidence.”
Djokovic last visited Thailand in 2008 when he lost the final of the Thailand Open to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, while Nadal visited Bangkok in 2010 for the same tournament and lost in the semi-finals.
The two will face each other at Bangkok’s Hua Mark Indoor Stadium at 1300 GMT (09:00 EDT) on Friday.
Reporting by Juarawee Kittisilpa, Vorasit Satienlerk and Amy Sawitta Lefevre; Writing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre; Editing by Patrick Johnston