Tennis star Nick Kyrgios has pulled out of the Tokyo Olympics after fans were banned from attending as a coronavirus precaution.
Kyrgios, 26, who represents Australia, posted on Twitter: “I know myself. The thought of playing in front of empty stadiums just doesn’t sit right with me. It never has.”
It comes after Olympic officials declared a state of emergency in Tokyo, which means that no spectators will be allowed to attend events in and around the capital when the Games begin on 23 July.
Overseas fans had already been barred from attending events, but after a meeting of the Japanese government, organisers, Olympic and Paralympic officials on Thursday, public screenings will also be banned.
Under the state of emergency in Tokyo, imposed over rising cases of the more contagious Delta variant, restaurants and bars will not be allowed to serve alcohol.
Stadiums in the areas of Fukushima, Miyagi and Shizuoka will be allowed 50% capacity, or up to 10,000 people.
Kyrgios said he did not make the decision to abandon the Games “lightly” and alluded to minor injuries that meant he needed the time off to “get my body right”.
The Australian national was forced to retire from his third round match at Wimbledon last Saturday due to abdominal pains.
His fellow teammate Ashleigh Barty will become the first Australian woman to play in the Wimbledon final in decades when she faces Karolina Pliskova on Sunday.
She has previously stated her commitment to representing her country in Tokyo, but has not made any further announcements since the news of the coronavirus state of emergency.
Despite the announcement, an Olympic torch unveiling ceremony was held at the Komazawa Olympic Park Stadium on Friday to mark the flame’s arrival in the city.
Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike thanked those who carried the torch for bringing it to Japan under such challenging circumstances.
But outside the ceremony, a small number of protesters gathered carrying signs saying: “Stop the torch, cancel the Olympics, extinguish the Olympic torch.”
Some experts have rallied for the Games – already delayed from last summer due to the pandemic – to be cancelled altogether over major concerns about the spread of COVID-19.
But Team GB will send its largest team ever for an overseas Olympics, the British Olympic Association (BOA) announced on Thursday, with more female than male athletes for the first time in history.
The BOA said 376 athletes were bound for Japan, with a further 22 reserves.
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