Tennis-Paire barred from representing France at Olympics over behaviour

April 24 (Reuters) - Benoit Paire has been barred from representing France at this year’s Tokyo Olympics following repeated instances of “deeply inappropriate behaviour” in recent weeks, the French Tennis Federation (FFT) has said.

World number 35 Paire crashed out of last month’s Argentina Open after tanking his final service game and being docked a point for spitting on the court in a defeat by Francisco Cerundolo.

The temperamental 31-year-old lost to Jordan Thompson in the opening round of the Monte Carlo Masters this month and said he felt like playing in a cemetery with no fans present at the venue due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Paire had previously said that playing tennis was not his priority and he was content to hop from one event to another, lose in the first round and earn some money in the process.

The FFT said it had decided to exclude Paire from possible selection for the Olympics on the proposal of technical director Nicolas Escude in consultation with Davis Cup skipper Sebastien Grosjean.

“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,” FFT President Gilles Moretton said in a statement.

“It’s the duty of each player... to respect the values of our sport and it is up to them to be exemplary on and off the court, especially vis-a-vis the young people of our country.”

Renowned as a hothead, Paire has had several indiscretions through his career, including being kicked out of the 2016 Rio Olympics by the French delegation for spending too much time away from the athletes’ village.

After being knocked out of the first round of the Australian Open, Paire launched a tirade at organisers, accusing them of “shameful” treatment of players during quarantine before the Grand Slam. (Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Michael Perry)