(ATR) Novak Djokovic has in his hands a unique opportunity, something that, with the exception of Steffi Graf in Seoul 88, has never ever been achieved by a tennis player: winning the "Golden Slam". But the Serbian tennis player, flamboyant Wimbledon champion for the sixth time, lost some enthusiasm ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and is no longer sure he wants to participate.
"I'm going to have to think about it. My plan was always to go to the Games, but now I'm a little bit split, it's 50-50 because of what I heard in the last two days," said the world number one after winning the title at the All England Club on Sunday.
Champion of Australia, Roland Garros and Wimbledon this year, Djokovic is a great candidate to lift the US Open trophy in September, but 2021 came with an extra incentive for him, the possibility of the "Golden Slam", the sum of the four major tennis tournaments and Olympic gold, an opportunity that only comes along every four years.
As ambitious and successful as Djokovic is, the Serb has serious doubts about his flight to Tokyo. The news that, for the first time in history, the Olympic Games will be played without spectators in the stands, dampened his enthusiasm for the Olympic event.
"It's not great news, I found out yesterday or two days ago, and I was very disappointed to hear it," Djokovic said Sunday. The covid-19 pandemic, which is far from being controlled in Japan, prompted the Japanese government to take the drastic measure.
"I heard also that there are going to be a lot of restrictions inside the village, possibly you can't watch other athletes compete. I can't have my stringer, who is a very important part of my team, and I'm limited with the amount of people that can make up my team."
If the Serbian's absence is confirmed, Tokyo 2020 will lose a major attraction and see a weakened tennis tournament. Rafael Nadal has already announced that he will not be at the Games, and Switzerland's Roger Federer is also in doubt.
Olympics Minister Tamayo Marukawa made the non-spectators announcement following discussions with officials and organizers on Thursday evening. Events will he held behind closed doors in Tokyo, Chiba, Kanagawa and Saitama, Marukawa said at the press conference. Fukushima and Sapporo were included a day later.
The postponed Olympics was set to allow up to 10,000 fans into venues, or 50 percent of its capacity, whichever is a smaller number, but changed plans with just 14 days to go due to the increase in COVID-19 cases across the country.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga confirmed that the Games will be held under a state of emergency, the fourth to be issued in the country, with new regulations set to be imposed from July 12 through to August 22.
Djokovic is starring in 2021 in one of the most shocking stories in world sport. He equaled Federer and Nadal in Grand Slam titles - all three now have 20 - and has the best chance to become the most successful player of all time.
"I think I'm the best, otherwise I wouldn't be talking confidently about winning Grand Slams and making history," the Serb said after defeating Italy's Matteo Berrettini in the Wimbledon final.
"If I am the best in history, I leave that to other people. It's very difficult to compare different eras, there are different rackets, balls, courts. Tennis is very different today. But I'm extremely honored to be part of the conversation. I know what I'm capable of, I know I have a very complete game that has proven to be very successful on all surfaces."
Written by Sebastian Fest
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