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News Navigator: Why is everyone talking about this year's US Open tennis?

Naomi Osaka, of Japan, walks off the court after winning a match against Marta Kostyuk, of the Ukraine, during the third round of the US Open tennis championships, on Sept. 4, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

The Mainichi Shimbun answers some common questions readers may have about recent events at the U.S. Open tennis championships, such as Naomi Osaka's anti-racism actions and the changes brought by the coronavirus.

    Question: What's got everyone talking about this year's U.S. Open?

    Answer: There have been a number of talking points across the tournament. In the women's singles, Osaka has been expressing her opposition to racial discrimination by heading onto court wearing black masks displaying the names of a number of Black people, including those who died at the hands of white police officers. In the men's singles, Novak Djokovic defaulted from the U.S. Open after accidentally hitting a line judge with a tennis ball. Players have also been removed from the tournament after testing positive for the coronavirus.

    Q: What do you mean by removed?

    A: Under the guidelines of the State of New York where the tournament venue is located, players need to isolate for 10 days after testing positive for the coronavirus, effectively meaning they have to withdraw from competition. A male player from France was removed after testing positive right before the tournament, and a female player who was recognized as having had close contact with him consequently lost her and her partner's place as a first-seeded doubles pair.

    Q: What coronavirus prevention measures are being taken?

    A: Certificates are being given to players who test negative for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, and their movement is restricted to the venue and a designated lodging facility where safety is ensured. Athletes are tested several times during the tournament, and after their third, they are required to take a test every four days. Players can also be removed from competition or fined if they go outside the designated areas without permission. Limits are also placed on numbers entering the venue, with only coaches and trainers included among those allowed in.

    Q: What about spectators?

    A: Spectators are not permitted to the U.S. Open this year. The French Open, one of the four annual grand slam tennis events, is planned to start on Sept. 27 in Paris with spectator entries limited to 11,500 people per day. It appears that people aged 11 and over will be required to wear masks.

    (Japanese original by Hiroyuki Asatsuma, Sports News Department)

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