Calm, author of the eponymous meditation and sleep app, has stepped into a growing debate around the refusal of tennis player Naomi Osaka to participate in customary press conferences at the French Open by pledging to pay any incurred fines.
The San Francisco-based software provider is stepping in as guarantor, providing financial and emotional support for any player shunning grand slam press conferences on mental health grounds.
Osaka hit the headlines after refusing to subject herself to a grilling by journalists during the tournament, with the second seed being slapped with a £10,600 fine for her no-show after winning her first-round match against Patricia Maria Tig. Osaka then withdrew from the competition before her second-round tie.
— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@naomiosaka) May 31, 2021
Intervening in support of Osaka’s stance, Calm said it would donate £10,600 to Laureus Sport, an organization dedicated to improving the mental health of young people through sport, as a statement of support for the player.
Explaining its motivations, the software firm announced: “Calm will also pay the fine for players opting out of 2021 Grand Slam media appearances for mental health reasons, and we will match the fine with a $15,000 donation to @LaureusSport.”
Articulating her intent on Twitter before stepping onto the court, Osaka tweeted: “I’ve watched many clips of athletes breaking down after a loss in the press room and I know you have as well. I believe that whole situation is kicking a person while they are down and I don’t understand the reasoning behind it.”