Aryna Sabalenka shares the rationale behind her Olympic decision

Sabalenka is the latest tennis player to opt out of the Paris Olympics
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Aryna Sabalenka is the latest Grand Slam champion to bow out of the 2024 Paris Olympics at Roland Garros. The two-time Australian Open champion joins 2021 US Open champion Emma Raducanu, Paula Badosa, and Ben Shelton as notorious players who will not be at the Olympics in late July.

Sabalenka cites the WTA rules as part of the rationale for skipping the Olympic games. Participating in the Olympics does not earn tennis players' ranking points. Conversely, they can lose points if they are playing in the Olympics and not participating in tournaments that are going on during the Olympics. For example, Coco Gauff will be playing at the Olympics at the same time the Mubadala Citi Open is being played in Washington, DC. She will not be able to defend the points she earned for winning the WTA 500 Washington DC event last summer.

Some players are willing to forsake the points and rankings for an opportunity to win an Olympic gold medal. Olympic tennis also embodies the team concept with players playing doubles and mixed doubles for their country, which attracts some players to the Olympics.

Aryna Sabalenka's situation is more complicated because of war in Ukraine

Sabalenka of Belarus was among the athletes not permitted to participate in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics (played in 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic) due to the ongoing war in Ukraine. In 2024, individual Russian and Belarusian athletes are allowed to participate as part of a neutral state; whereas, Russia and Belarus teams are still prohibited.

That makes the issue more confusing for top-ranked Russian and Belarusian players like Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev, and Viktoria Azarenka.

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Sabalenka announced her decision on Monday morning in Berlin. Raducanu has already received backlash for turning down an Olympic wildcard to be part of the British team. The schedule, change of surface, and tour demands of the top ranked players could be mean that other high-profile tennis athletes will choose not to go to the Paris Olympics.

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