x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

The Olympics are the pinnacle of any sport

Does tennis belong at the Olympics? This familiar debate, a regular feature since the sport was readmitted in 1988, is in full swing again. Ahmed Rizvi comments

America's Andre Agassi says winning the gold medal at Atlanta in 1996 is the highlight of his career.
America's Andre Agassi says winning the gold medal at Atlanta in 1996 is the highlight of his career.

This familiar debate, a regular feature since the sport was re-admitted into the fold in 1988 following a 64-year absence, is in full swing again.

Critics of tennis at the Olympics include some of the sports best known personalities.

"I just think tennis doesn't lend itself to being an Olympic sport," Rod Laver, an all-time great, told Tennis magazine.

"To me, the Olympics is track and field."

The current arguments are along similar lines.

"The Olympics are not the pinnacle of the sport," the critics claim.

"Tennis has its four annual grand slams, which are far more important." But says who? In the words of Andre Agassi, the 1996 Atlanta champion, "To win a grand slam [title] is the greatest thing in the sport, but to win an Olympics is the biggest thing you can do in all sports."

The top players of today hold a similar view.

"In the past, when you won the Olympic Games you were considered immortal and you got eternal glory," said Novak Djokovic. "I don't think it has changed much really because that is how much it means to the world of sport and to the athletes."

Those comments should suffice for the naysayers.

The players know the worth of the Games and the fans seem to be loving the tennis competition.

So why these meaningless deliberations?

arizvi@thenational.ae

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