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Federer announces intention to compete at Tokyo Olympics in 2020

Hannah Wilks in News 14 Oct 2019
  • Roger Federer has announced he intends to play the Tokyo Olympics in 2020
  • 'My heart decided I would love to play the Olympic Games again.'
  • Federer will need an exemption from qualifying criteria after failing to play the Davis Cup
Roger Federer, seen here playing at the London Olympics in 2012, confirmed he intends to play at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 (PA Sports)

Roger Federer has announced he plans to play the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.


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Two-time Olympic medalist Roger Federer has revealed he intends to compete at Tokyo 2020 in pursuit of a singles gold medal.

Speaking after an exhibition match in Tokyo against John Isner, with the injured Kei Nishikori also involved in an umpiring capacity, Federer said:

'I’ve been debating with my team for a few weeks now or a month, what I should do in the summertime after Wimbledon in terms of also before the US Open and at the end of the day my heart decided I would love to play the Olympic Games again.

'I carried the flag twice for Switzerland in Athens and Beijing as well, I got a gold and a silver so I’d love to play again, I’m very excited.'

Federer competing at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 (PA Sports)
There has been much speculation about Federer's plans for the summer of 2020, with the 38-year-old playing a carefully-managed schedule in recent years as he tries to prolong his career as much as possible. 

Olympic years are notoriously brutal on the players, with the games taking place between Wimbledon and the start of the American hard-court swing. In 2020, the Olympics tennis event will begin on 25th July - less than two weeks after Wimbledon ends on 12 July - and ending on Sunday 2 August, with the Canada Masters (the first of two Masters 1000 Series events held in consecutive weeks) beginning on 10 August.

Not since 2014 has Federer played more than one event between Wimbledon and the US Open so including the Tokyo Olympics in his 2020 schedule is a significant step.

Federer will be competing at this fifth Olympics in Tokyo in 2020, having played at Sydney 2000, Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 and London 2012 (he missed Rio 2016 due to injury). His best result in singles came at London 2012 where he won a silver medal, defeating Juan Martin del Potro in an epic semifinal which ended 19-17 in the decider before losing in straight sets to Andy Murray in the final.

Federer also won a gold medal in men's doubles at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 alongside Stan Wawrinka.

Fans in Tokyo will no doubt be delighted that Federer intends to play - he is also sponsored by Japanese brand Uniqlo, a major sponsor of Tokyo 2020 - but the Swiss player will need an exemption from the usual qualifying criteria in order to compete.

Players are required to compete, or at the very least be selected for and physically present at, three Davis or Fed Cup ties during the Olympic cycle in order to be eligible to play at the Olympics, but Federer has not played a Davis Cup tie since 2015.

Exceptions can be made for mitigating circumstances such as injury, but if there are no mitigating circumstances, Federer could simply appeal to the ITF who are unlikely to deny one of the game's biggest stars the opportunity to play at the Olympics, boosting the profile of a sport some feel should not be in the Olympics at all.

Federer is currently sponsored by Uniqlo (PA Sports)
Tennis was a part of the Olympics from its inauguration in 1896 until 1924 but was dropped until returning as a full medal sport in 1988. Every Olympics there will be a few high-profile players who decline to compete - Dominic Thiem of Austria does not intend to play in Tokyo in 2020 - but many of the world's best players fully embrace the opportunity to represent their countries and be part of the Olympic experience. At Rio 2016, Andy Murray successfully defended his gold medal in men's singles with del Potro and Nishikori taking silver and bronze respectively, while Monica Puig became the first athlete representing Puerto Rico to win a gold medal when she won the women's singles, with Angelique Kerber and Petra Kvitova taking silver and bronze.

Tennis players have also frequently carried the flag for their nations, with Murray and Caroline Wozniacki among those who did so at Rio in 2016 while Federer has done so twice.

Novak Djokovic, the current world no. 1, also definitely intends to play. Like Federer, Djokovic has been unable to win a singles gold medal so far - one of the few accolades which has eluded either man. He recently competed at the Rakuten Japan Open in Tokyo to get a feel for the conditions ahead of 2020 (and won the title without dropping a set). 

World no. 3 Federer, runner-up at Wimbledon this summer to Novak Djokovic, played the Tokyo exhibition after losing last week to Alexander Zverev in the quarterfinals of the Shanghai Rolex Masters. He is scheduled to play next at the Swiss Indoors Basel which begins on 21 October.


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Federer announces intention to compete at Tokyo Olympics in 2020

Roger Federer has revealed he plans to represent Switzerland at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020: 'My heart decided I would love to play the Olympic Games again.'

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