Oz officials urge Kyrgios to play at Olympics
Sydney (AFP) –
Australian Olympic officials urged Nick Kyrgios Monday to commit to the Tokyo Games after the maverick tennis star suggested he might not go.
Kyrgios was among an 11-strong Australian team, led by world number one Ashleigh Barty, announced last week, but he has since thrown doubt over his participation.
Before retiring with an abdominal injury during his third round Wimbledon clash, he told reporters he had also entered a clashing tournament in Atlanta.
"I'm tossing up my options at the same time. I've heard some things about the Olympics, that are very tough, restrictions wise," he said. "No guests, none of that stuff."
Australian chef de mission Ian Chesterman said he would respect whatever Kyrgios decides, but encouraged him to be part of their 472-strong contingent, which features a record number of women for an overseas Games and the most Indigenous athletes ever.
"We'd still love to see Nick over at these Games. He knows he's welcome at these Games and I would still think it'd be a fantastic outcome for tennis and our team if he was there," he said via a Zoom call.
"But I understand and respect his decision, whichever way he goes.
"People have to believe they can perform under these different circumstances, so Nick will make his own decisions and we'll respect that. We have to acknowledge it's been a very difficult lead up for all athletes."
Chesterman's tone was markedly different to his predecessor in 2016 Kitty Chiller, who engaged in a public slanging match with Kyrgios ahead of the Rio Olympics, which he ultimately opted not to play.
Australia's team, finalised Monday, is the second largest ever for an overseas Olympics, just short of the 482 who went to Athens in 2004.
Women make up more than half, a record, with a landmark 16 Indigenous athletes, led by Barty.
Among notable milestones, equestrian Andrew Hoy will be at his eighth Olympics, more than any other Australian, while fellow equestrian Mary Hanna and table tennis' Jian Fang Lay compete in their sixth.
© 2021 AFP