France’s Benoit Paire barred from Olympic Games over ‘deeply inappropriate behaviour’

The Frenchman threw a tantrum during a match in March in which he spat on the court and shouted obscenities

Eleanor Crooks
Friday 23 April 2021 11:42
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<p>Benoit Paire’s behaviour was criticised by the  French Tennis Federation</p>

Benoit Paire’s behaviour was criticised by the French Tennis Federation

Benoit Paire has been barred from representing France in the Tokyo Olympics this summer because of his “deeply inappropriate behaviour”.

The 31-year-old, who would have been in a position to qualify as the French number four and world number 35, has made the headlines repeatedly this year for his conduct on court and comments off it.

Paire, a famously irascible character on the court, has made no attempt to hide his dislike of life on tour during the coronavirus pandemic, with the players’ off-court freedoms restricted and tournaments held behind closed doors.

In an Instagram post last month, Paire said the tour had become “sad, boring and ridiculous”, while he also stated his aim was to lose in the first round of each tournament so he could escape life in a bubble.

He has lost nine of his 10 singles matches this season and, following defeat by Jordan Thompson at the Monte-Carlo Masters last week, Paire said: “I just don’t care. There’s no magic. What is the pleasure playing like this?

“If you’ve experienced the tour and you see how it is now, the only thing you want is to just go away.”

In announcing its decision, the French Tennis Federation also cited Paire’s behaviour in a match against Francisco Cerundolo in Buenos Aires in March, where he spat and swore on court.

The FFT’s statement said that Paire had apologised following a conversation with president Gilles Moretton and that would have been sufficient had the Frenchman not continued in the same vein with his comments in Monte-Carlo.

Moretton said: “His deeply inappropriate behaviour since the start of the year seriously undermines the values of sport, the image of tennis and is totally incompatible with the Olympic spirit.

“It is the duty of each player and each high-level player to respect the values of our sport and it is up to them to be exemplary on the court as well as off, especially for the young people of our country.”

It is not the first time Paire has been disciplined by the FFT. At the Rio Olympics in 2016, he was kicked off the team after losing his second-round singles matches for poor behaviour and breaching team rules.

The FFT has offered Paire support.

PA

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