World No. 1 Novak Djokovic confirmed he will compete at the Tokyo Olympics as the Serb remains on course to achieve the Golden Slam in tennis.
Djokovic completed the third leg towards achieving the Golden Slam last weekend when he added the Wimbledon title to his Australian Open and Roland Garros triumphs in 2021.
No man has ever won the four Slams and an Olympic gold in the same year, with Germany’s Steffi Graf the only player to accomplish the feat in 1988.
After winning at Wimbledon, Djokovic said he was “50-50” about competing at the July 23 to August 8 Games following the organizers’ decision to ban fans from attending and the restrictions on the number of people he can take to the Games.
But the 34-year-old said on Thursday he had booked his flight for Tokyo.
“I am very proud to pack for Tokyo and join our national team in the fight for the brightest medals on the Olympic arenas,” Djokovic, who won a bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Games, tweeted.
“For me, the game for Serbia has always been a special joy and motivation and I will do my best to make us all happy! Let’s go.”
Some of the sport’s biggest names, including Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal, Serena Williams, Stan Wawrinka and Simona Halep have already announced their decision to skip the Games, which has been delayed by a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-hit De Minaur to miss Games
Australian tennis player Alex de Minaur has tested positive for COVID-19 prior to his departure for the Tokyo Olympics, the Australian Olympic Committee said on Friday, July 16, the latest athlete to see his Olympics dream shattered by the coronavirus.
US basketball star Bradley Beal’s Olympic dream was cut abruptly short on Thursday when USA Basketball announced the Washington Wizards star will miss the Tokyo Games after he entered coronavirus protocols at the training camp in Las Vegas.
Several COVID-19 cases have emerged in the past week involving athletes and other people involved with the Games, but all have been either in pre-departure or on arrival in Japan.
Athletes started entering the Olympic Village on Tuesday and there have been no reports of virus infections or scares inside the village. Olympic organizers say “bubbles” will protect Games participants and the Japanese public from the virus spreading.
Tokyo is under a state of emergency for the pandemic, but most steps to curb its spread are voluntary although many people say they have grown weary of complying.
“We’re very disappointed for Alex,” Australia’s chef de mission Ian Chesterman told reporters on Friday.
“He said that he’s shattered, not being able to come. It’s been a dream since he was a child to represent Australia at the Olympic Games, but he has sent his very best wishes for the rest of the team.”
The world No. 15 returned two positive tests in Spain before he was due to fly to Japan, David Hughes, the AOC’s chief medical officer, told a news conference.
Organizers have promised that the Games, postponed last year because of the pandemic, will be “safe and secure” and imposed strict testing regimes and limits on delegates activities to try to soothe concerns amongst the general public, many of whom wanted the Games canceled or postponed again. – Rappler.com