News24

Clijsters skips Japan

2011-03-24 12:22

Florida - Former world number one Kim Clijsters has withdrawn from the Pan Pacific Open to be held in Tokyo in September over the ongoing nuclear emergency at an atomic plant.

Clijsters said she hoped to play in Japan "when it's possible", after earlier tweeting concerns over radiation from the Fukushima plant which was damaged in the massive March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

"I always have felt that I have a close connection to Japan. I have really good memories of playing doubles with Ai Sugiyama in Japan," the 27-year-old world number two said in a message to organisers.

"I wish everybody a lot of courage, a lot of strength and I look forward to coming back to Tokyo when it's possible."

Three days after the disaster that struck northeast Japan, the Belgian expressed some of her concerns on popular micro-blogging service Twitter.

"So sad to see all the suffering that Japanese are going through. First earthquake, tsunami now the radiation problems!" Clijsters wrote on March 14.

"Winds from Japan hitting US West coast containing radioactive material...?? On the news this morning! I don't think I want to be here," she wrote later that day.

World number one Caroline Wozniacki and crowd favourite Maria Sharapova also sent notes of support through the organisers of the Pan Pacific Open, which begins on September 25.

"I've watched all the disasters that hit Japan. I'm so sad for the families and everyone," said Wozniacki, the event's reigning champion.

"I just see whole cities ruined, the families being separated and so many people killed. I've had so many great memories in Japan, I've always played well out there," added the 20-year-old Dane, who also won the 2008 Japan Open.

Sharapova, a former world number one who claimed her first WTA singles and doubles titles at the 2003 Japan Open, said she had "incredible memories" of playing in Japan.

"I'm so sorry to see and hear about all the incredible disasters that are happening in the country of Japan right now," said the 23-year-old Russian, who won the Pan Pacific Open in 2005 and 2009.

The 9.0-magnitude quake and monster tsunami have left more than 26 000 dead or missing along Japan's northeastern Pacific coast.

AFP