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30 May, 2021 11:34

‘We get paid very well’: Tennis ace Bencic becomes latest star to question Osaka boycott, ‘holds back on receiving Covid vaccine’

‘We get paid very well’: Tennis ace Bencic becomes latest star to question Osaka boycott, ‘holds back on receiving Covid vaccine’

Tennis ace Belinda Bencic has said the ability for sports stars to give their opinion on everything leads to "chaos and small wars", appearing to implicitly question Naomi Osaka's boycott of the media at the French Open.

High-profile world number two Osaka has caused a storm by announcing that she will not be attending press conferences, adding that she is willing to absorb potentially hefty fines for the good of avoiding what she sees as damaging media duties in order to preserve her mental health.

All-time great Rafael Nadal appeared to respectfully pour scorn on the idea by saying that the media attention "makes us what we are", and Bencic has echoed his views that the spotlight is a benefit to stars while seeming to suggest that Osaka wastes her words at times.

“I have the feeling that I don't have to add my [thoughts] to every topic," the Swiss world number 11 told Tagblatt, praising Osaka for her willingness to campaign and speak out on issues such as social inequality.

"I don't have that need. On the other hand, I sometimes have the feeling that she is interested in keeping the conversation going.

“Media work is part of it, it's part of our job. I've never felt like I was being portrayed badly. Thanks to media coverage, we have worldwide publicity. And we get paid very well for a women's sport – this is also the case thanks to the media."

With more than 2.2 million followers on her prolific Instagram account, Osaka's newfound reluctance to field questions about her performances has puzzled some.

French Tennis Federation President Gilles Moretton called the decision a source of "deep regret" for the four-time grand slam champion, the sport and the media.

“I think this is a phenomenal mistake," he said. "It shows to what extent today there is a need for strong governance in tennis.

"What is happening there is, in my opinion, not acceptable. We will stick to the laws and rules for penalties and fines.”

Bencic pointed out that interviews do not have to be given by players immediately after emotionally affecting defeats.

"You can take the time to collect yourself before answering questions," she said. "We were also trained in dealing with the media. We know how to do it."

Bencic could be more directly affected by the looming issue of Covid-19 vaccines potentially being required to allow players fewer restrictions around tournaments.

Also on rt.com Naomi Osaka’s refusal to take questions from the press is down to her arrogance, not her mental health issues

According to the outlet, Bencic turned down the opportunity to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at the Charleston Open in the US in April, and is yet to reach a final opinion on whether she wishes to do so.

The report said that players who were vaccinated because of a promise that they would be allowed to move more freely at the Madrid Open found that the pledge did not come to fruition, while players will be kept in a bubble in one of two hotels at the French Open.

Bencic will start her campaign against Nadia Podoroska in the first round in Monday.

Also on rt.com ‘The media made us what we are’: Rafael Nadal slams Naomi Osaka’s refusal to take questions from the press during the French Open