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Graham Denholm/Getty Nick Kyrgios
Nick Kyrgios is sitting out the Tokyo Olympics.
The news came just hours after Japan said that fans will be banned from watching the Olympics in person after a new state of emergency declared was declared in Tokyo, as coronavirus cases surge in the host city.
"It's a decision I didn't make lightly," Kyrgios said in the statement. "It's been my dream to represent Australia at the Olympics and I know I may never get that opportunity again. But I also know myself. The thought of playing in front of empty stadiums just doesn't sit right with me. It never has."
On the mend from an abdominal injury which forced him to retire during his third-round match at the 2021 Wimbledon Championships last week, the athlete added that he's focused on healing during this time.
"I also wouldn't want to take an opportunity away from a healthy Aussie athlete ready to represent the country. I will also take all the time I need to get my body right," Kyrgios said. "Good luck to all the Aussies competing and I'll see you back real soon."
The tennis pro's decision to pull out from the Olympic Games might not come as a surprise to some of his fans. After Wimbledon, he hinted at his uncertainty about continuing competing in the immediate future in conversation with the media after the competition.
"Look, I don't know about the Olympics or Atlanta just yet," he said, per ESPN. "If I'm to play the Olympics, I've said it numerous times, I want to do it the right way. I want to do it with full crowds, with my guests there. I want to do it when I'm able to watch other athletes do their thing. That's the Olympics for me."
Kyrgios continued, "The Olympics, the way it's going to go on, is not the Olympics. That's not what it is for me. With these restrictions, that's not how I want to remember the Olympics either if I play it just one time. We'll see. We'll see what I do."
Now, Australian tennis officials are tasked with selecting a replacement for the athlete at the upcoming Games, which begin July 23, ESPN reported.
Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the star player has been vocal about proper health and safety precautions on the tennis circuit amid the ongoing pandemic. In August, Kyrgios withdrew from the 2020 US Open due to COVID-19 concerns, telling fans the difficult decision "hurts me at my core."
"Dear tennis, let's take a breath here and remember what's important, which is health and safety as a community," Kyrgios said in a video announcement at the time. "We can rebuild our sport and the economy, but we can never recover lives lost."
"I've got no problem with the USTA putting on the US Open, and if players want to go, that's up to them," he added. "So long as everyone acts appropriately and acts safely."