PARIS: World number one Novak Djokovic called Tuesday for the Olympic Games to offer ranking points to help stem the number of men turning their back on the showpiece event.
So far, 17th-ranked John Isner of the United States, Austrian 15th seed Dominic Thiem, Bernard Tomic, the world number 22 from Australia and Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez, 23 in the rankings, have all announced they are giving the Olympics in Rio in August a miss.
Isner admitted earlier Tuesday that as well as a packed summer schedule, the absence of ranking points was another major factor.
The Olympics is often referred to as a fifth Grand Slam.
But the four majors all offer 2,000 world ranking points to their champions.
“To be quite frank, I don’t see a reason why not. We have have the best players in the world participating in arguably the fifth Grand Slam,” said Djokovic.
“It’s of that importance for all of us, even more, because it happens every four years. I would definitely encourage people to rethink of getting points out there.”
Djokovic, an 11-time Grand Slam title winner, will be going to Rio where he will look to improve on a dismal Olympic record.
He won a bronze in Beijing in 2008 while he was defeated in the semi-finals in London in 2012 by Andy Murray before losing the bronze-medal play-off against Juan Martin del Potro.
Djokovic was the flag-bearer for the Serbian team at the opening ceremony in 2012.
“From my perspective, being part of Olympic Games is something that I don’t think I have ever experienced before,” said Djokovic.
“It’s wonderful, wonderful feeling being there with all the best athletes from around the world, being part of that Olympic Village representing your country, the experiences with everybody, dining alongside with some of the best athletes.
“It’s a big decision to skip Olympic Games.”
Isner is one of four top 25 players in the world who will skip the Games which fall in the middle of the North American hardcourt season and in the build-up to the US Open.
“The Olympics, it’s very tough on the schedule, especially with Davis Cup as well. We’re into the quarter-finals there,” said 31-year-old Isner.
“With all the tournaments sandwiched pretty much around the Olympics, it made it tough for me to go down there.
“I think the fact that they have no points, to be honest, was a pretty big factor as well, that hindered me a bit.”