Mo Farah backs Naomi Osaka in her decision to pull out of French Open

·3-min read
 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Mo Farah has defended Naomi Osaka’s decision to quit the French Open following a threat to expel her from the tournament for declining media interviews.

The four-time British Olympic champion said he can “only support” Osaka and revealed how he too finds such situations “nerve-wracking.”

“Yeah we are great sportsman, we can do well at what we do. But mentally, physically, is that person okay?” he told Sky News.

“I definitely have some support for her for sure, because I'm in that situation, I'm sure it's not an easy thing.”

One of the biggest names in sport, Osaka stunned the tennis world when she pulled out of the Grand Slam on Monday.

Citing mental health reasons, the world number two pulled out of Roland Garros despite winning her opening match against Patricia Maria Tig on Sunday.

Her decision not to take part in interviews or press conferences has been the biggest talking point of the tournament.

“I think it’s a difficult one because like myself, often you meet a lot of different athletes and yeah we're good at what we do and it might not show,” Farah said.

Mo Farah after crossing the finish line at the Antrim Coast Half Marathon 2020 (PA)
Mo Farah after crossing the finish line at the Antrim Coast Half Marathon 2020 (PA)

“Obviously our duty is to give back to the public and the public have the right to be able to watch it and do stuff.

“But if it affects their mental health and affects them, then well I think we should definitely try and help in this situation.

“I've been in that scenario where you have 40 journalists, you got the camera right in front of you and it's nerve-wracking

“I can only support her, but at the same time I don't know what was going on in her normal life.”

Osaka was fined £10,500 for skipping two news conferences following her first-round victory on Sunday.

The four-time Grand Slam singles champion was told by organisers she would be thrown out if she kept avoiding journalists.

Threats were made to disqualify Osaka and possibly ban her from future tournaments if she did not reconsider.

However, Osaka later announced she would be withdrawing from the tournament.

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Japan joined leading figures in tennis and athletes across the world of sport in rallying around Osaka on Tuesday.

However, others have questioned her decision.

In a tweet on Monday, Osaka wrote: "Hey everyone, this isn't a situation I ever imagined or intended when I posted a few days ago.”

"I think now the best thing for the tournament, the other players and my well-being is that I withdraw so that everyone can get back to focusing on the tennis going on in Paris.”

Osaka said she had suffered bouts of depression since winning her first slam title at the US Open in 2018 and that talking to the media triggered anxiety.

"I never wanted to be be a distraction and I accept that my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer,” she continued.

"More importantly, I would never trivialise mental health or use the term lightly.”

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