Olympic Games Can Be A Beacon Of Hope In The Fight Against COVID-19, Says Naomi Osaka - UBITENNIS
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Olympic Games Can Be A Beacon Of Hope In The Fight Against COVID-19, Says Naomi Osaka

The former world No.1 has pledged her full backing behind the event amid ongoing concerns about if it will be able to take place in Tokyo.

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Two-time grand slam champion Naomi Osaka believes next year’s Olympic Games could be a ‘massive celebration for the world’ as she reiterates her commitment to take part.

 

The four-year sporting event was scheduled to get underway this summer, but has been delayed by a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Making it the first time an Olympic Games have been delayed in its 124-year history. Osaka had been one of the main athletes used to promote the Tokyo event. Featuring in various promotional campaigns and adverts.

Despite having to wait another year to have a shot of winning a gold medal, the 22-year-old doesn’t think it will have much of an impact on her preparations compared to other sports. Describing the decision to suspend the Games by another year as ‘the better of the entire world.’ More than 200,000 people have died from COVID-19 since the outbreak.

“Like most athletes that had been training I was disappointed at first but when you realise the postponement is for the better of the entire world you know the game can wait, we will come together in 2021 and be ready,” Osaka told Reuters.
“I actually have a lot of sympathy for athletes, like track athletes, who work for four years and plan to peak at that exact time … Now their schedule is probably in turmoil.
“Tennis is a little bit different so I shouldn’t have to alter my preparations too much.”

There are however still concerns about if the event will take place at all in Tokyo. Earlier this week Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe gave a stark warning in which he said the Games could be cancelled if the outbreak isn’t contained by next year. The chief of Tokyo 2020, Yoshiro Mori, has already said that if it doesn’t go ahead in 2021 it will be scrapped. Should that happen, it would be the first Olympic cancellation since 1944.

“I know so many people (including close friends) that have worked so hard on the Games, and I know how difficult this has been for people in Japan as well … So it has been tough,” Osaka commented.
“But of course it is the right decision, which has my full backing. I’m really hopeful that the Olympics will now be a massive celebration for the world at the other end of this pandemic.”

At present Osaka is spending lockdown in Los Angeles and is relishing her time away from the sport, as well as a break from the notorious hectic travel requirements of tennis players. Unable to practice on a tennis court, the world No.10 has is exploring other ways to keep fit.

“I haven’t been able to play tennis, however, I have been speaking to my coach and fitness trainer daily and finding ways to keep my body fit and ready for when the tour resumes,” she explained.
“It’s a new normal but I am adjusting.”

The 2021 Olympic Games are scheduled to be held between 23rd July – 8th August.

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Kim Clijsters starts the World Team Tennis tournament with a win over Bernarda Pera

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Former world number 1 and multiple Grand Slam champion Kim Cljisters made a winning start to her 2020 World Team Tennis campaign with a 5-2 win over US player Bernarda Pera. World team Tennis is a mixed gender professional tennis league played with a team format in the United States.

 

The Belgian player rallied from 0-40 down twice and won two of three deciding points to seal the win. The 2020 World Team Tennis season will be the 45th season of the league and features nine teams and each team will play a 14-match regular-season schedule.

Clijsters has won 41 WTA singles titles and 11 doubles titles and lifted three WTA Tour Championships. She has won the Australian Open singles title in 2011 and three US titles in 2005, 2009 and 2010 and two Grand Slam doubles titles at Roland Garros and Wimbledon in 2003.

Cljisters retired from tennis in 2007 at the age of 23 to start a family. She made her come-back in 2009 and won her second US Open title as unranked player in just her third tournament of the comeback. Kim won her back-to-back title at the US Open in 2010 and the Australian Open in 2011. She became the first mother to be ranked world number 1 by the WTA. She holds the record for most Grand Slam singles titles won as a mother and was the first to win one since Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1980.

Clijsters retired again after the 2012 US Open.

Cljisters returned to professional tennis at the Dubai Tennis Championships more than seven years of retirement. She lost to Garbine Muguruza in the opening round.

Cljisters is determined to return on the court after the WTA Tour was suspended since March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The most important lesson for me is to trust the process. It does not mean because COVID happened that I am not interested in playing more tennis. There are some challenges and combining parenting at home and teaching the kids at home and still going to practice and things like that, so it was challenging but at the same time you get through that together”, said Cljisters.

 

Several precautions are in place at the World Team Tennis to avoid the risk of contracting Covid-19. No more than 500 spectators are allowed inside the 2500-seat stadium.

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Angelique Kerber suggests she won’t travel to New York

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Three-time Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber suggested she won’t travel even if the US Open gets the go-ahead.

 

The US Open organizers are determined to hold their tournament despite the restrictions imposed to fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

The German star says travelling to New York to play at the US Open is the last thing she wants to do due to the coronavirus crisis.

“As of today, I say quite honestly, I cannot imagine it. I don’t think anyone wants to get in a plane and fly to New York. At the moment no one knows what’s happening and how it will go on. I have the greatest respect that I or a member of my team could be infected and we are stuck without knowing how to proceed”, said Kerber.

Kerber is not optimistic that the WTA Tour will resume according to plan.

“Who knows, perhaps we will not play tennis in the next two years. It’s hard to say. We will also start again in three weeks”, said Kerber.

Daria Gavrilova said that she needs to play the US Open for financial reasons. The Australian tennis player has not played since the US Open last year due to injury and the shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“For me it’s important to make a living, to make some money. We have a choice. Personally I like to know that I have an opportunity to play and earn, but I feel like the players just don’t want to make a tough decision and maybe would feel a relief if the tournament is cancelled”, said Gavrilova.

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REPORT: Japanese Tennis Association To Lose One Billion Yen In 2020

The loss of a key men’s event in the country has resulted in millions of dollars being loss in revenue.

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Venue of the 2019 Mens Japan Open (image via https://twitter.com/rakutenopen)

The cancellation of a premier tennis event in Japan due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is set to have a massive financial impact on the country’s governing body.

 

Last month organisers made the decision to scrap the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships this year amid fears of a second wave of the virus in October when the it is set to take place. The tournament is currently categorised as an ATP 500 event and has been held annually since 1973. In 2019 Novak Djokovic won the tournament for the first time in his career without dropping a single set throughout. Other previous winners also include Roger Federer (2006), Rafael Nadal (2010) and Andy Murray (2011).

“Given concerns about a second wave of the infection both in Japan and overseas, we came to the anguished conclusion that we had to cancel,” organisers said in a statement.

It has been estimated that as a result of the move, the Japanese Tennis Association (JTA) will lose millions of dollars in revenue. National news agency Kyodo has estimated the loss to be at least 1 billion Yen ($9.4 million) based on this event alone and no others.

JTA executive director Naohiro Kawatei told Kyodo that moving athletes in and out of the country is problematic due to the current situation. Tokyo has recently raised it’s Coronavirus alert level to the top of a four-point scale after there have been more than 100 new daily cases of the virus in the city for six days in a row. Furthermore, The Bank of Japan has revised down their growth forecasts.

“In addition to players coming from overseas, it is the responsibility of organizers to facilitate their departure, so there are some differences between our sport and others,” said Kawatei.

At present the women’s top tournament in the country is still on the 2020 schedule. The Pan Pacific Open, which is classed as a Premier event, is currently set to take place during the week commencing November 2nd.

Recently the Asian swing of the tennis season has been thrown into jeopardy after the Chinese General Administration of Sports recommended that no sports events take place in the country unless they are related to Olympic qualification. Although sports federations, including both the ATP and WTA, are seeking clarity from officials before they make their next move. China is usually where the majority of Asian tennis events are played, including the WTA Finals.

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