Nick Kyrgios won’t play US Open due to COVID-19 concerns

SYDNEY (AP) — Nick Kyrgios has withdrawn from the US Open because of concerns over the coronavirus and in honour of the “hundreds and thousands of Americans” who have died from COVID-19.

Kyrgios said in an Instagram post yesterday that he had no problem with the United States Tennis Association (USTA) proceeding with its plans to hold the tournament from August 31 to September 13. But he cited health and safety concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic as he joined fellow Australian and world number one Ash Barty in opting out of the Flushing Meadows Grand Slam tournament.

“I will not be playing this year at the US Open. It hurts me at my core not to be out there competing in one of the sport’s greatest arenas, Arthur Ashe Stadium,” Kyrgios said in the video. “But I’m sitting out for the people, for my Aussies, for the hundreds and thousands of Americans that have lost their lives, for all of you. It’s my decision.”

“We can rebuild our sport and the economy,” Kyrgios added, “but we can never recover lives lost.” Kyrgios also criticised players who have continued to play exhibition tournaments in the past several months, chastising them for “dancing on tables, money grabbing your way around Europe, trying to make a quick buck hosting an exhibition.”

There have been a number of exhibition events held, the most high-profile one organised by number-one-ranked Novak Djokovic. It was held in several countries and photographs of spectators at the events showed poor social distancing.

Djokovic, Grigor Dimitrov and Borna Coric later tested positive to COVID-19. Kyrgios described the decision to go ahead with the exhibition as “boneheaded”, saying people had to stick to the protocols.

Last Thursday, Barty said she did not feel comfortable about travelling during the pandemic. She will decide in the coming weeks whether to defend her French Open title. The Roland Garros tournament starts on September 27.

Nick Kyrgios of Australia during the Citi Open tennis tournament in Washington. PHOTO: AP