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Why Are Tennis Stars Opting Out Of The Olympics?

Tennis Olympics

(Carl Court/Getty Images)

The Olympics
Roger Federer is not competing at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. (Carl Court/Getty Images)

Representing one’s country at a world-recognized event like the Olympics is a dream for virtually all athletes. Tennis Olympics are so highly valued to tennis professionals because getting the chance to play on that stage comes around just 3-4 times in a career. Forget winning, even participating in the tennis Olympics is a massive feat because it simply means you are the best at what you do in your country. This year, however, many tennis stars are choosing not to play at the Tokyo Olympics.

Who Has Opted Out Of The Games?

On Tuesday, Roger Federer of Switzerland became the latest to turn down the Tokyo Olympics opportunity, citing surgery to his right knee that has him at less than 100 percent. Along with Federer, Rafael Nadal from Spain, Dominic Thiem of Austria, and Nick Kyrgois of Australia have all announced that they will not be going to Tokyo in late July. Aside from the men’s circuit, highly notable women have also chosen to opt out. The 2019 US Open champion, Bianca Andreescu of Canada, top-ranked American Sofia Kenin, and tennis legend Serena Williams have all pulled out of the Games.

A Player To Keep A Close Eye On

A player to keep an eye on as we progress closer to the Tokyo event is world number one, Novak Djokovic. As I stated earlier, Olympic-level tennis is always important to professional tennis players, but Djokovic is currently on the path to completing something that has never been done in the history of men’s tennis: a golden slam. He is certainly a top contender should he attend the Games, but in order for the hope of a golden slam from Djokovic to live on, he must first compete in the Tokyo games and also win gold.

However, the star player has recently conveyed his indecisiveness in deciding whether to attend or not. “My plan was always to go to Olympic Games, but right now I’m a little bit divided,” Djokovic mentioned to reporters after winning his 20th slam at Wimbledon. He continues, “I also hear that there’s going to be a lot of restrictions within the [Athletes’] Village. Possibly you would not be able to see other athletes perform live. I can’t even have my stringer that is a very important part of my team. I can’t have a stringer. I’m limited with the amount of people I can take in my team as well.”

Personally, I do not think Djokovic should drop out of The Olympics, as it would eliminate his chances of completing the golden slam. He would still be in contention for a calendar slam, but winning the golden slam would make him the first man to ever do so, and would earn him GOAT status.

Why Not Play At The Olympics?

After hearing the thoughts of star players from around the world, I think it is pretty clear that they are disappointed with the heavy restrictions. For example, Denis Shapovalov of Canada shared his feelings with the media by stating that the new restrictions add a lot of pressure on the players, as fewer coaches and staff and zero fans will be allowed at the Games. The only other potential factor is that the players want to prioritize the final grand slam of the year, the US Open. The slam kicks off in Queens on August 30th, and I think the top players want to practice for this slam instead of participating in the Olympic Games.

Tennis fans will have to hope that their country’s top player competes in the Olympics this year. Based on the current rosters, we may not witness as exciting of competition compared to past years, but top players from the up-and-coming generation will be there to show fans who they can expect to see on TV for the next 15 or so years.

Update: Soon after this article was published, Novak Djokovic announced that he will be participating and representing Serbia at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. This decision keeps him in contention for achieving the Golden Slam in 2021.

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