Defending Olympic champion Andy Murray said on Tuesday he would not being staying at the athletes’ village at this summer’s Rio Olympics, instead joining the British tennis team in an apartment in the city.
Murray, who stayed at the Olympic village at the 2008 Beijing Games, is the latest high profile athlete to join 17-time grand slam champion Roger Federer and the U.S. basketball teams in choosing not to stay with the rest of the athletes, prompting a security headache for organisers.
“I’m not staying in the Village,” Murray said following his second-round victory over Radek Stepanek at the Madrid Masters. “I’m staying in an apartment with the rest of the team.”
The world number two acknowledged he had fun socialising with athletes from other countries in Beijing, but said he would treat the Games as he would any other major tournament to try and retain his Olympic title.
“My job there is to try to prepare as best I can and win a medal for my country,” Murray said. “I think the best way to do that is to sort of prepare like you do for other events where you’re in your own space.”
The 2012 London Olympics saw a number of tennis players seeking separate accommodation, although this was generally seen as an exception because of Wimbledon’s distance from the main Olympic Park in East London. Murray still visited the Olympic Village in London despite not actually being based there.
Federer is also expected to miss the athletes’ village in Rio, although his staff are yet to confirm his official arrangements. Federer encountered issues at the 2008 Beijing Games because of repeated requests for autographs and photos which hampered his preparations.
The U.S. men’s and women’s basketball teams, meanwhile, confirmed earlier in April they would be staying on a cruise ship in the port of Rio for the duration of the Olympics to ensure “maximum security” and give players time to spend with their families.
“It’s different than what we’re used to,” Murray added. “I think that’s why the players are staying outside.”
Rafael Nadal, however, won gold in Beijing when he stayed at the Olympic Village and has already made clear his intention to repeat the winning formula in Rio. Nadal missed the 2012 London Games due to injury, but previously stayed in the village during the 2004 Athens Olympics.
A senior Brazilian security official last month encouraged all athletes to stay at the Olympic Village to avoid having to draw up additional security measures for certain individuals, at a time when the security budget had been cut by nearly US$500 million.
While the organising committee does not interfere with athletes’ choice of accommodation, it can recommend choices based on security concerns, with hotels generally favoured as many have established protection procedures.