Road To The Olympic Games

Tennis

Naomi Osaka conflicted over holding the Tokyo Olympics

Naomi Osaka is conflicted over whether the Tokyo Olympics should be held amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Japanese tennis star makes comments at Italian Open on Sunday

Japan's Naomi Osaka, shown in this May 2 file photo, was asked on Sunday about the Tokyo Olympics going ahead during a global pandemic. (File/The Associated Press)

Naomi Osaka is conflicted over whether the Tokyo Olympics should be held amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The second-ranked tennis player, who represents Japan, was asked about the games at the Italian Open on Sunday.

"Of course I would say I want the Olympics to happen, because I'm an athlete and that's sort of what I've been waiting for my entire life," she said.

"But I think that there's so much important stuff going on, and especially the past year," Osaka added. "I think a lot of unexpected things have happened and if it's putting people at risk, and if it's making people very uncomfortable, then it definitely should be a discussion, which I think it is as of right now."

The Tokyo Olympics were already postponed from 2020 and opposition seems to rising in Japan about holding the games this year. The virus and its spreading variants are taxing Japan's health-care system with only two per cent of the population vaccinated.

But local organizers and the International Olympic Committee insist the games will open as planned on July 23.

WATCH | Bring It In panel discusses Osaka's comments on Tokyo Olympics:

Naomi Osaka voices concerns over safety of Tokyo Olympics

Sports

1 month ago
8:57
Morgan Campbell, Meghan McPeak and Dave Zirin address tennis star Naomi Osaka's comments on whether or not the Olympics should take place this summer. 8:57

"At the end of the day I'm just an athlete and there's a whole pandemic going on," Osaka said.

Men's star Kei Nishikori also expressed his doubts about whether the IOC and local organizers are doing enough to plan for a worst-case scenario of "hundreds" or "thousands" of coronavirus cases at the Tokyo Olympics.

"I don't know what they are thinking, and I don't know how much they are thinking about how they are going to make a bubble, because this is not 100 people like these tournaments," Nishikori said after winning his first-round match at the Italian Open on Monday.

"It's 10,000 people in the village. So I don't think it's easy, especially what's happening right now in Japan. It's not doing good. Well, not even [just] Japan. You have to think all over the world right now."

The IOC recently announced that vaccine developers Pfizer and BioNTech would donate doses to inoculate athletes and officials preparing for Tokyo. The IOC has repeatedly said the Olympics were being organized as if the vaccines were not available, but has pushed hard to get athletes vaccinated.

"I feel like whatever makes everyone more comfortable and more safe. There's going to be a lot of people entering the country, so they definitely have to make the right decisions on that," Osaka said. "I've gotten vaccinated. At the end of the day you can't force anyone to be vaccinated.

But then Osaka added: "If you're going into the Olympics and whatever, make the host country happy."

WATCH | Should COVID-19 cases among athletes affect Olympic protocols?:

Should Covid-19 cases among athletes affect Olympic protocols?

Sports

2 months ago
8:36
Morgan Campbell, Meghan McPeak and Dave Zirin discuss whether or not the number of Covid-19 cases in athletes should tighten safety measures in Tokyo. 8:36

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