Mental health of sportspersons has been a talking point in recent days, especially since Monday night when Tennis player Naomi Osaka pulled out of the French Open following a bitter fall-out from her decision to skip press conferences during the tournament. In a press conference ahead of the India Women’s Cricket team’s departure to England, a big name in Indian sport and captain Mithali Raj was asked if she has ever had issues in interacting with media during her long career.
She responded, saying: “I think it’s tough to be in quarantine for any athlete. Getting into a tournament, we don’t feel that. Personally I haven’t felt I should forego a press conference.
“Because women’s cricket where it stands, it needs media support. It’s important for players also to sort of try and help in the growth of the sport. So it’s important that we need to interact and promote the sport.”
Mental health and mandatory press conferences in sport have been in the limelight since the 23-year-old Japanese star Osaka was fined $15,000 on Sunday and threatened with disqualification after she refused to carry out a mandatory news conference following her first round win.
She claimed on the eve of French Open that such post-match inquests were akin to “kicking people when they are down” and that they had a detrimental effect on her mental health. She pulled out of the tournament explaining that she has suffered from bouts of depression since the US Open in 2018.
Former India cricketer Mohammad Kaif too spoke about the issue on Twitter, saying: “It’s high time we acknowledge the issue of mental health in sports. More so in individual sports. In cricket, a coach or a senior player can be a backup option for a captain but not in tennis. Let’s be sensitive, players in their weak moments should be allowed to avoid media,” tweeted Kaif.