As the countdown to Tokyo 2020 whittles down to a matter of weeks, the world’s top athletes now find themselves in a precarious position. As they look to peak on the day of their event, training plans are scrutinised and reassessed, nutrition is considered with diligence to the craft, and coaches are on hand 24/7, providing words of encouragement, pep talks and steering motivation to the most lofty of all goals: that of an Olympic gold medal. But while it should be the most exciting time of an athlete’s career, for some the Tokyo Olympics are being eschewed altogether. After the global pandemic forced the Olympics to be postponed by a year, athletes are now having to contend with the prospect of empty stadiums and social distancing within the Olympic village as the pandemic continues to disrupt proceedings. Now, in addition to countless other athletes, Roger Federer is the latest to opt out of Tokyo.
After his Wimbledon setback, Federer has withdrawn from the Tokyo Olympics. Having been a runner-up to Andy Murray in the gold medal match at London 2012, many were hoping to see Federer clinch victory at Tokyo. But having struggled with his physical fitness over the last few months, Federer has now pulled the pin on Tokyo. Taking to Twitter, the tennis star announced: “During the grass-court season, I unfortunately experienced a setback with my knee and have accepted that I must withdraw from the Tokyo Olympic Games.”
He added, “I am greatly disappointed, as it has been an honour and highlight of my career each time I have represented Switzerland. I have already begun rehabilitation in the hopes of returning to the tour later this summer. I wish the entire Swiss team the best of luck and I will be rooting hard from afar.”
Joining Federer in a withdrawal from Tokyo is Johanna Konta, who has revealed she has been suffering with the after-effects of Covid-19 after a member of the British star’s team tested positive in the buildup to Wimbledon. Believing herself to be unfit for Tokyo, Konta had to make the difficult decision to pull out. “This is a heartbreaking reality for me, as representing Team GB at the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016 is one of my most treasured memories from my career so far. I’ll be doing my best to get myself back to full health and fitness and ready to be competing again soon,” she said.
Already, Serena Williams, Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem have announced they will not be traveling to Japan for the Olympics. After exiting Wimbledon with an injury, Nick Kyrgios also adds his name to the list, adding that “playing in front of empty stadiums just doesn’t sit right with me.”
As for Federer, all eyes will be on his next move as rumours of retirement continue to swirl around the Swiss. Speaking after his defeat at SW19, Federer confirmed that he would take some time before deciding on his next step. “I’ve got to regroup. My goal was always for the last year and more to try to play another Wimbledon,” he said. “I knew it was going to be really hard, to be honest. Now I’ve just got to talk to the team, take my time, not feel rushed - then take the right decision.”
Read on for a full list of all the tennis stars who have opted out of Tokyo.