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September 8, 2000
Kafelnikov will play, insists RussiaGennady Fyodorov
The Russian Tennis Federation (RTF) on Thursday dismissed reports that Yevgeny Kafelnikov had pulled out of the Olympic team for Sydney.
The official RTF website quoted men's tennis team chief Kirill Kostyrko as saying that both Kafelnikov and Marat Safin would compete in Sydney.
"Regardless of whether or not they will award the ATP Tour points for competing in Sydney, both of them will play in the Olympic tournament," it said. "They will depart for Sydney directly from Tashkent."
Kafelnikov and Safin are scheduled to compete in the $500,000 President's Cup tournament in the Uzbek capital from September 11 to 17.
Earlier in the week, Kafelnikov was reported to be pulling out of Sydney.
"You have to be a realist," the former French and Australian Open champion was quoted as saying following his straight-sets loss to Slovakia's Dominik Hrbaty in the third round of the U.S. Open at the weekend.
Kafelnikov has not won win a singles title all year -- for the first time since 1993.
"I'm far from my best form at the moment, therefore there is no point at all in going to Australia," he said.
His attitude was criticised on Tuesday by Vitaly Smirnov, president of the Russian Olympic Committee, who accused the former world number one of being unpatriotic.
"You can make millions of dollars or commute in a private jet but when it comes to giving your best for your country he takes a back seat to many of our true sports heroes," Smirnov told Russian media.
"We helped Kafelnikov in his rise to the top, providing free training, equipment and travel costs in the early years of his tennis career.
"We also helped his family along the way by persuading the government to give them land on the Black Sea as well as other things. But now it's all forgotten."
Kafelnikov's failure to compete in Sydney would have left Marat Safin, currently fourth in the ATP Tour Champions' Race, as the only Russian in the men's draw.
It would have also prevented Russia from fielding a doubles team.
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