‘I don’t support masking people for the sake of TV’: US tennis player Christian Harrison earns backlash & fine for going maskless

US ace Christian Harrison has received little sympathy from tennis fans after he was fined $3,000 by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) for refusing to don a protective mask following his win at a tournament in Florida.

The world number 789 sensationally beat top seed Cristian Garin of Chile 7-6 (3), 6-2 in the second round to record his first victory against a top-50 player.

After his remarkable win, Harrison was expected to take part in a post-match on-court interview – but he refused because he was obliged to wear a mask.

The athlete, who has been fined for violating the tournament’s safety protocol, was angered by the verdict, taking to Instagram to express his frustration.

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He claimed wearing a mask in the hot sun was not healthy, adding that the obligatory requirements were introduced for TV rather than the sake of athletes.

After my second round match, I chose not to do my post-match interview due to wearing a mask,” explained Harrison afterwards.

“It’s not healthy to wear a mask in the hot sun for more time than absolutely necessary after a tough match.

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“I was given the impression it was optional. I wasn’t told I would be fined. That night, I was told it is a requirement for TV matches and I would be fined.

When I spoke to the supervisor the following morning, I was told, since I wasn’t notified that it was mandatory, I could appeal the fine and it would be taken away.

“Unless something changes now, I still believe that to be true. I was required to do a sit-down interview after the match with the same person, which I agreed to and I did not have to wear a mask for it.”

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Harrison has been critical of the safety requirements and has also ridiculed the restrictions online. “Healthy enough to play three-hour matches,” he observed.

“But I’m an absolute safety hazard walking maskless through a restaurant.”

Harrison earned scathing comments from the majority of tennis fans responding on social media, many of whom seemed outraged by his actions and questioned his intellect.

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“He can’t be that stupid – or can he?” asked one, while another suggested he should be banned for six months and a cynic added: “I gather he can’t afford PR.”

Despite being condemned for failing to set an example, the former US Open mixed doubles semi-finalist insisted that the exercise was little more than an empty stunt.

“It’s not about safety to wear a mask for TV to talk to a microphone with no-one around,” he said.

Playing the tournaments, I’ll follow whatever is required, even if I don’t agree with it. I don’t support masking people for the sake of it for TV.

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