Belgrade – World No. 1 Novak Djokovic said on Thursday that he would reconsider taking part in the Tokyo Olympics if spectators were banned from attending.
Djokovic’s comments came after more calls in Japan for the games to take place behind closed doors and after one doctors’ association said the event should be canceled altogether.
“I plan on playing in the Olympics, as long as fans are allowed,” Djokovic said in a news conference.
“If not, I’d think twice about participating.”
Djokovic is not the first tennis star to express doubts over the rescheduled Olympics — Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams recently said they were unsure about competing. Roger Federer said athletes needed a firm decision on whether the event is going ahead, adding he was going back and forth.
Japanese stars Naomi Osaka and Kei Nishikori have both raised concerns about whether Tokyo should be hosting the games at all.
Medical groups have warned the massive event could introduce new variants to Japan with parts of the nation, including Tokyo, still under states of emergency.
Haruo Ozaki, chairman of the Tokyo Medical Association, said on Thursday that holding the games without spectators “is the bare minimum given the current situation.”
“This is the Olympics in a time of emergency,” he said at a press conference.
Organizers have already barred overseas fans, while a decision on domestic spectators is expected in late June.
Tokyo’s current virus restrictions allow venues to have up to 5,000 fans or 50% capacity, whichever is fewer.
Djokovic was speaking after he booked his place in the semifinals in the Belgrade tournament with a 6-1, 6-0 win over Federico Coria, a victory that puts him fifth on the list of Open era wins.
The 56-minute demolition of the 96th ranked Argentine took Djokovic to 952 wins, one ahead of Guillermo Vilas.
“It was a great performance,” said Djokovic, who is tuning up for the French Open, which begins in Paris on Sunday.
“And probably one of the best matches, if not the best match, I played this year. I felt fantastic on the court from the first point.”
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