Men’s singles No.7 seed Jonatan Christie had barely stepped off court when he received the news that would change his family forever.
Christie was competing at the Asian Leg in January when he learned his elder brother, Ivan, had contracted COVID-19 at home in Indonesia.
“After I came back from Thailand, my mother said to me, ‘he is already sick’,” Christie told the Olympic Information Service at the Musashino Forest Sport Plaza yesterday.
With his brother’s condition worsening by the day, Christie was forced into mandatory quarantine in Jakarta before he could return home. Once there, he forgot all about his debut Olympic quest and quickly took on the role of carer.
“My mother and father were ill at the same time, but in a different hospital,” he said. “I was going to my father and mother’s hospital, and then in the evening to my brother’s hospital, so I had to take time out for them.”
Tragically, Ivan never recovered from the virus, leaving Christie with the agonising decision of whether to inform his sick parents of the death of their son.
“After my brother passed away, I did not tell my mother and father for maybe one week,” the 23-year-old said.
“I kept it alone. After my father and mother were good again, I had to tell them. Of course, my mother was crying a lot.
“My mother and my father are good (now), and today we stay connected for them. They are happy to see me at the Olympics.”
Christie stuttered into gear during his 2-0 debut win over Aram Mahmoud of the Refugee Olympic Team yesterday, losing 14 points in the second game against a player ranked 172 in the world at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
The Asian Games champion was quick to downplay his medal prospects, pledging only to give everything he has in memory of his late brother, Ivan.
“This is for him and I want to do my best for him,” he said.