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‘Athletes are humans’ – Osaka calls for privacy, empathy from press

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Tennis star, Naomi Osaka has called on the press to respect her privacy and also show empathy when she returns to action.

The 23-year-old withdrew from this year’s French Open following the controversy over her refusal to join in press conferences at the competition.

After Grand Slam organizers fined her for not fulfilling her media commitments, in a tweet on 31 May, the Japanese said she would be taking some time off the court, adding that she had “suffered long bouts of depression” since 2018.

Osaka has not competed since the French Open but is due to play at her home Olympics in Tokyo later this month.

“In any other line of work, you would be forgiven for taking a personal day here and there, so long as it’s not habitual,” she wrote in Time magazine on Thursday.

“Athletes are humans.”

Read Also: Organizers tag as ‘unfortunate’ Naomi Osaka’s withdrawal from French Open

She continued: “You wouldn’t have to divulge your most personal symptoms to your employer; there would likely be HR measures protecting at least some level of privacy.

“Perhaps we should give athletes the right to take a mental break from media scrutiny on a rare occasion without being subject to strict sanctions.

“I felt under a great amount of pressure to disclose my symptoms – frankly because the press and the tournament did not believe me.

“I do not wish that on anyone and hope that we can enact measures to protect athletes, especially the fragile ones.

“I also do not want to have to engage in a scrutiny of my personal medical history ever again. So I ask the press for some level of privacy and empathy next time we meet.”

Osaka is set to stage a return at this month’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.

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