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Osaka has no obligation to speak to media at Tokyo 2020, IOC confirms

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Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka will not be required to talk to the media at the delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has confirmed. Osaka received a stern warning from Grand Slam organisers when she refused to take part in post-match press conferences at the recent French Open, citing preserving her mental health.

 

 

The Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open issued a joint statement, threatening Osaka with expulsion if she failed to carry out her media duties at their events. Following the warning and a fine of $15,000 (£10,570/€12,302), Osaka announced her withdrawal from Roland Garros.

 

 

 

 

In her statement, Osaka said she would take time away from the court, with the four-time Grand Slam champion revealing she had experienced depression and anxiety. The world number two has also opted to pull out of Wimbledon but plans to compete at a home Olympic Games where she will be a big gold-medal hope for Japan.

Press conferences are usually held after an athlete has won a medal at the Games, but the Japanese Olympic Committee told Kyodo News “there are no special penalties for not participating”. The IOC also released a statement, insisting it “has never obliged athletes to hold a press conference”.

 

 

 

 

Under rules set out by the International Tennis Federation, which will run the tennis event at the Olympics, athletes must go through a mixed zone “immediately after the conclusion of each match” but are “not obliged to conduct any interviews”.

Should a player violate this rule, they will face a fine of up to $20,000 (£14,480/€16,857). Osaka grew up in the United States but confirmed her Japanese citizenship in October 2019, in order to represent the host nation at the Olympics.

She previously said winning gold at Tokyo 2020 would be a “dream come true”.

Osaka generated headlines earlier this year when she expressed concerns for her country, with the Olympics set to be held amid the COVID-19 pandemic and a backdrop of discontent among citizens in Japan.




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