Novak Djokovic has confirmed he will compete at the Tokyo Olympics, despite the recent string of high-profile withdrawals. The Games have been hit by a spate of players deciding not to compete in Japan over the past few days, but the world number one will continue his quest for the Golden Slam in the next few weeks.
Djokovic has been completely dominant in 2021, winning the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon titles to move onto 20 Grand Slam titles.
The 34-year-old is now level with rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal and has the chance to complete an unprecedented Golden Slam by winning all the Majors and an Olympic gold medal in a single calendar year.
Such an achievement has never been done in men’s tennis, but Steffi Graf – an icon in the women’s game – did complete it in 1988.
Federer is among many players to withdraw from competing at the Olympics, but Djokovic says is still going to Tokyo despite concerns about a spike in coronavirus cases.
“I am very proud to pack for Tokyo and join our national team in the fight for the brightest medals in the Olympic arenas,” he wrote on Twitter.
“For me, the game for Serbia has always been a special joy and motivation and I will do my best to make us all happy! Let’s go.”
Djokovic’s confirmed involvement in the Games comes as a timely boost to the organisers, who have been hit by a succession of withdrawals recently.
While Federer’s announcement was due to a knee injury picked up at Wimbledon, many others have been prevented from travelling because of COVID-19.
British number ones Dan Evans and Johanna Konta are both not competing following positive tests.
Nadal, Nick Kyrgios, Dominic Thiem, Denis Shapovalov and Stan Wawrinka are not competing in the men’s singles.
Meanwhile, 2016 silver medalist Angelique Kerber, 2012 Olympic gold medallist Victoria Azarenka and Serena Williams are among the big names in the women’s game not playing in Japan.
Kerber said her “body needs a rest”, while Azarenka cited the “challenges from the pandemic” as her reason for withdrawing.
The Tokyo Olympics will take place behind closed doors, with no fans allowed to attend due to a spike in COVID-19 cases in Japan.
The Olympics, which will be staged amid a state of emergency in Tokyo, will run from Friday, 23 July to Sunday, 8 August, with 339 events in 33 sports set to take place.
The tennis event runs from Saturday, 24 July to Sunday, 1 August on the hard courts at Ariake Tennis Park.