Daniil Medvedev, the men’s world No 2, has requested the removal of a journalist from the tennis competition at the Olympic Games after being asked about the reaction towards ROC athletes since the Russian doping scandal.
The encounter took place in the mixed media zone after Medvedev’s dramatic three-set win over Fabio Fognini at the Ariake Tennis Park. Medvedev had struggled badly in the early afternoon 31°C heat and 72% humidity in Tokyo. After being asked by the umpire if he was OK, Medvedev responded: “I can finish the match, but I can die – if I die, who will take responsibility?”
Medvedev passed through the mixed zone immediately afterwards. In the final question of his English conference, a reporter, whose first language was not English, asked him: “Are the Russian Olympic team athletes carrying a stigma of cheaters in these Games after the scandal and how do you feel about it?”
After initially misunderstanding the question, Medvedev was incensed: “That’s the first time in my life I’m not gonna answer a question, man. And you should be embarrassed of yourself,” he said.
The Russian then turned to the press officer beside him and said that the journalist should be removed: “I think you should [remove] him from either the Olympic Games, either the tennis tournament. I don’t wanna see him again in my interviews. Thanks.”
As the journalist attempted to explain his question, Medvedev walked away: “That’s the first time in my life,” he said, repeating himself three times. “So you should be embarrassed.”
All Russian athletes, including Medvedev, are competing under the banner of Russian Olympic Committee due to a series of doping scandals in recent years. Russia had initially been suspended for four years by Wada before the Court of Arbitration for Sport reduced its ban by two years.
Among other regulations, they are not allowed to wear or brandish Russian flags on their sports kits and their national anthem is forbidden from being played during medal ceremonies.