Patriotism prompted Novak Djokovic to play this week’s Tokyo Olympic Games.
The world No. 1 will continue his quest to complete the Golden Grand Slam—winning all four Grand Slam crowns and the Olympic gold medal—after some soul-searching on whether he would make the trip to Tokyo.
A 2008 bronze medalist in Beijing, Djokovic said while he’s not overly enthusiastic about the Tokyo Games’ strict Coronavirus protocol, his pride in representing Serbia in Tokyo ultimately compelled his decision to play.
“It came down to patriotism and my feelings for Serbia,” Djokovic told Montenegro’s MINA news in comments published by Reuters.
“I am not overjoyed about playing with no fans present or about the various Coronavirus restrictions effective in Japan, but representing your country in the Olympics is indispensable.”
Djokovic said a conversation with Croatian Olympian Blanka Vlasic inspired his decision.
“I came across Blanka Vlasic a few days ago and she said that people will only remember who won the medals, not what the conditions were like or whether there were any fans or not,” Djokovic said. “Her words stuck with me and I am delighted that I decided to take part in the Olympics.
“I am inspired to play my best tennis and confident that I can win the gold medal after a tremendous run so far this season.”
The 20-time Grand Slam champion can complete the career Golden Slam winning the gold medal. If Djokovic does it, he will join Rafael Nadal, Andre Agassi, Steffi Graf and Serena Williams as the fifth player to win the career Golden Grand Slam. Djokovic is bidding to join Graf as the second champion in history to capture the calendar Golden Grand Slam.
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