Badminton star aims for gold in memory of brother who died of COVID

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Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Badminton - Men's Singles - Group Stage - MFS - Musashino Forest Sport Plaza, Tokyo, Japan - July 24, 2021. Jonatan Christie of Indonesia in action during the match against Aram Mahmoud of the Refugee Olympic Team. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger
Jonatan Christie of Indonesia in action during the match against Aram Mahmoud of the Refugee Olympic Team. (Leonhard Foeger/Reuters)

An Olympian badminton player is aiming for glory in memory of his brother who died of COVID-19 before the Tokyo Olympics.

Jonatan Christie, the men’s singles No.7 seed from Indonesia, had stepped off court at an event in Thailand in February when he received the news that his older brother, Ivan, had contacted the virus.

Christie downed his racket and returned to Jakarta, where his mother and father had also been taken ill.

He said: “After I came back from Thailand, my mother said to me: ‘He is already sick.’"

Indonesia's Jonatan Christie hits a shot in his men's singles badminton group stage match against Refugee Olympic Team's Aram Mahmoud during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Musashino Forest Sports Plaza in Tokyo on July 24, 2021. (Photo by Alexander NEMENOV / AFP) (Photo by ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP via Getty Images)
Indonesia's Jonatan Christie hits a shot during his men's singles badminton group stage win against the Refugee Olympic Team's Aram Mahmoud on Saturday. (AFP via Getty Images)

With his brother’s condition worsening each day, the 23-year-old was put into mandatory quarantine before he could return home.

The badminton star then took on the role of carer.

He added: “I was going to my father and mother’s hospital, and then in the evening I was going to my brother’s hospital, so I had to take time out for them.”

The basic rules of badminton

However, Ivan never recovered from the virus, while Christie made the decision not to tell his sick parents of their son’s death for a week.

“My mother and my father are good [now], and today we stay connected for them,” he said. “They are happy to see me in the Olympics.”

Christie produced an opening win in the men’s singles on Saturday, beating Aram Mahmoud of the Refugee Olympic Team and losing just 14 points in the process.

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The Asian Games champion pledged to give everything in memory of his late brother.

“This is for him and I want to do my best for him,” he said.

Watch: The Olympic star who learned her sport using a giant elastic band

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