Australian tennis star Nick Kyrgios has pulled out of the Tokyo Olympics, saying playing without spectators “doesn’t feel right.”
Kyrgios says an abdominal injury was also a factor in his withdrawal from the Games, which start on July 23.
“It’s a decision I didn’t take lightly,” Kyrgios posted on Twitter on Friday (Australia time).
Just hours before Kyrgios’ statement, Olympic organizers banned all crowds from the Games amid Tokyo’s ongoing state of emergency due to the coronavirus.
Kyrgios maintained it was his “dream” to compete at an Olympics.
— Nicholas Kyrgios (@NickKyrgios) July 8, 2021
“And I know I may never get that opportunity again,” he wrote.
“But I also know myself. The thought of playing in front of empty stadiums just doesn’t sit right with me. It never has.”
The 26-year-old said he was also seeking treatment for an abdominal injury that forced him to retire midway through a third-round match at Wimbledon five days ago.
“I also wouldn’t want to take an opportunity away from a healthy Aussie athlete ready to represent the country,” he posted.
“I will also take all the time I need to get my body right.”
Following his Wimbledon withdrawal he told the assembled media that he was unsure of his immediate playing future.
“Look, I don’t know about the Olympics or Atlanta just yet. If I’m to play the Olympics, I’ve said it numerous times, I want to do it the right way. I want to do it with full crowds, with my guests there. I want to do it when I’m able to watch other athletes do their thing. That’s the Olympics for me,” he said.
“The Olympics, the way it’s going to go on, is not the Olympics. That’s not what it is for me. With these restrictions, that’s not how I want to remember the Olympics either if I play it just one time. We’ll see. We’ll see what I do.”
Australia’s tennis hierarchy will now meet to discuss a replacement for Kyrgios, after initially selecting 11 players, including Ash Barty and Alex de Minaur.