Games of the XXXI Olympiad, aka Rio Olympics 2016 is here. Just like every edition, the Olympics bring zeal and patriotism overflowing with colors of national pride in the players’ heart. But nothing is more heartbreaking than having to see your country’s best athletes pulling out of The Games. Tennis is just as important as any other sport in the Olympics when it comes to the value it holds for its athletes.
Since the unfortunate spread of Zika virus in Brazil, the organization has been in a fix on how to tackle the impeding spread, resulting in multiple withdraws from athletes. While appropriate measures are being institutionalized, the onus of negligence can be imparted from participating countries as well. For example, the Overseas Security Advisory Council(OSAC) is responsible for looking after the American contingent abroad. But what is disappointing is the lack of emphasis on the epidemic in Brazil in its OSAC Assessment for Rio Olympics 2016. The 31-page report has less than one page devoted to the Zika virus, which is the exact reason why top notch players have withdrawn.
Two men, seventh-ranked Milos Raonic and eighth-ranked Tomas Berdych expressed concerns over Zika, after both players decided to pull-out. Two women, fifth-ranked Simona Halep and 17th-ranked Karolina Pliskova, too, have expressed their concerns over the virus after withdrawing from the Olympics. Haley quoted: “I concluded that the risks are too high for my career and for my health, especially as a woman, family is much too important for me and I can’t risk not being able to have one of my own after my career in tennis is over.”
Adding to the list, players from across the world have declined to participate but have been more discreet in their logic. John Isner stated his interest to defend his BB&T Atlanta Open title instead, after apologizing to his crowd over the painful decision. Similarly, Feliciano López is keen to ‘prepare’ for the US Open instead, after forgoing his seat in the Olympic team for Spain. Bernard Tomic and Dominic Thiem have expressed their “busy schedule” as a reason, after deciding to instead play in a low-level Mexican event. Nick Kyrgios’s conflict with the Australian Olympic Committee has left him opting out of the Games this edition citing “poor handling of players”.
It’s always disappointing to see athletes who deserve the highest of accolades pull out of competitions and events due to circumstances not in their control as it kills the sporting flavor the game demands. Nonetheless, with the esteemed likes of Roger Federer, Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, Lawn Tennis at Rio Olympics 2016 will hopefully not lose out on steam and will pull crowds of the highest numbers to make it a successful sporting extravaganza.