US Open, take notice — Osaka deserves ADA protections

Regarding the short article “Osaka Tells Her Side of the Story in an Essay” in the Globe Sports Log on July 9, which concerns Naomi Osaka’s call for mental health awareness among athletes, I would think that the US Open, the Beginning in late August, is governed by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Osaka said she suffered from depression that should qualify her for ADA protection. If so, the United States Tennis Association would need to demonstrate that attending any required press conference is an “essential function” of its duties as a tournament participant. I doubt they could meet that standard, in which case they would have to provide her with “reasonable accommodation” for her disability. This could include skipping a few press conferences or selectively answering pre-approved questions.

Athletes are also people and have the right to legal protection. The USTA would be wise to contact Osaka to negotiate an agreement that would make their participation in the tournament more beneficial to their mental health. If they refuse and threaten sanctions, if she does not want to submit to press conferences or other press obligations, I hope she will sue them. ADA protections only make sense if they are enforced.

Bob Schueler


The author is a retired psychiatric rehabilitation advisor and past president of the Massachusetts Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association.

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