'We respect that': Twist in Ash Barty's Tokyo Olympics stay

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·Sports Reporter
·3-min read
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Ash Barty (pictured left) arrives at Tokyo airport wearing a mask and (pictured right) a security guard walking past the Olympic village.
Ash Barty (pictured left) arrived in Tokyo ahead of the Olympic Games, but won't be staying in the Olympic village. (Getty Images)

World No.1 tennis star Ash Barty arrived in Tokyo ahead of her quest for a gold medal at the Olympics, but the details of her stay came as a surprise for many.

Fresh off her historic Wimbledon victory, Barty arrived in Tokyo wearing a mask ahead of her first Olympic Games.

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The World No.1 is among Australia's leading medal contenders in Tokyo - with Simona Halep, Serena Williams, Bianca Andreescu, Sofia Kenin, Victoria Azarenka, Angelique Kerber and Coco Gauff absent for a range of reasons.

However, upon her arrival, Barty only made a brief appearance at the Olympic village before heading off to her residence for the remainder of her event.

Many thought the World No.1 would stay in the village.

But she has opted for a different residence away from the thousands of athletes staying in the village, which had the full backing of the Australian Olympic Committee.

"Ash is staying elsewhere," Australia's chef de mission Ian Chesterman told reporters.

"We have a number of athletes staying outside the village. We allow that, it's just what works best for them.

"Something I've always been very big on is driving performance takes a whole lot of flexible decisions, flexible options.

"In terms of her performance plan, it's best served by her being able to control her environment and we respect that."

Numerous Olympians from around the world have chosen a different base for this and previous Games; the US men's basketball team memorably stayed on a cruise ship for Rio 2016.

However, Barty did stop by the village and visit Australia's team base in the morning for a coffee.

Ash Barty decision justified after Covid-19 cases

Barty's decision to stay just outside the village appears to be justified after the Olympic bubble record a number of Covid-19 cases in the last few days.

Fellow Aussie tennis star Alex de Minaur tested positive for Covid-19 before his departure for Tokyo, the Australian Olympic Committee said.

While IOC President Thomas Bach said last week there was “zero” risk of athletes passing on the virus to Japanese or other residents of the village, this is already being put to the test.

On the weekend, two South African football players became the first athletes inside the Olympic Village to test positive for Covid-19, and other cases connected to the Tokyo Games were also confirmed Sunday.

Tokyo entered a state of emergency only days before 1,800 athletes and staff started to arrive in Japan for the Olympic Games.

with wires

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