Dan Evans is the latest British omission who will miss the Tokyo Olympics later this month having tested positive for Covid-19, which means that Britain will be relying solely on Andy Murray in the men’s tennis as he targets a third successive gold medal.
However, Evans will not be the only superstar of the sport who is missing this summer’s spectacle in Tokyo. A list of absentees longer than the queues at Wimbledon mean that the tournament is wide open and medals are up for grabs. On the men’s side Roger Federer’s ongoing knee issues have ruled him out of this one, 2008 gold medal winner Rafael Nadal is not playing in an attempt to prolong his career and Nick Kyrgios doesn’t want to play in front of no fans.
With Dominic Thiem and Evans also out, that surely leaves the door open for Novak Djokovic to complete step four of five in his quest for the Golden Slam. For the women, reigning champion Monica Puig is out having been through shoulder surgery, Brit Johanna Konta has tested positive for Covid-19 and Simona Halep is out with a calf injury.
Four-time Olympic gold medalist Serena Williams is also skipping the tournament, but is yet to confirm her reasons for doing so. But it isn’t just the tennis courts that will be missing some of their biggest stars.
The USA’s basketball team is always the best in the world given the strength of the NBA, and once again they should win gold without some of the biggest names on the planet. James Harden had agreed to play but a hamstring injury put a halt to that hope, Steph Curry passed on the opportunity and LeBron James hopes of a third Olympic gold were brought to an end - with his age cited as the reason for his omission. At least he has Space Jam 2.
Away from the court, the number one ranked golfer in the world, Dustin Johnson will not be competing as he stated, "It's right in the middle of a big stretch of golf for me... It's a lot of traveling at a time where it's important for me to feel like I'm focused on playing on the PGA Tour." Britain’s Tyrrell Hatton, Serigo Garcia and Louis Oosthuizen will also be absent, but despite this, the field for golf does look incredibly strong.
Britain’s most notable absentee from this Olympics is four-time gold medal winner from the 2012 and 2016 Games, Sir Mo Farah. At 38, it appears that age has caught up with him as he failed to make the qualifying time in Manchester, so he will not be able to defend his 5,000m or 10,000m crowns.
The one-year postponement of the Games may have allowed youngsters to develop but it also robbed us of the chance to see badminton superstar Lin Dan again. Two Olympic golds and five World Championships sums up an excellent career but at 37 and suffering from injuries, he felt he could not push his body for another year. In the women’s badminton, defending champion Carolina Marin from Spain has done her ACL and will also miss this one. A real shame.
One person who will not be missed is Dan’s countryman Sun Yang in the pool, having been banned for four years and three months due to his suspicious role in breaking a blood vial ahead of a drugs test. For years other athletes have questioned his performances while his attitude towards Duncan Scott after winning gold in the 2019 World Championships was nothing short of a disgrace.
Due to Covid-19, North Korea will not be sending any athletes to Tokyo and the biggest name to miss out is Om-Yun Chol. The weightlifter won gold in London and Silver in Rio but in 2019 set two world records in the clean and jerk. He’d have been one of the favourites for gold, but unfortunately, it is not to be.
And so we finish with football. Of course, loads of big names will be missing out but Neymar, having sealed gold for the host nation in 2016, will not be permitted to play as PSG refused to release any of their players this summer. 2008 gold medalist Lionel Messi will also be absent having won only gold with Argentina at the Copa America last weekend.