Olympics: Indonesia's Christie playing Tokyo Games for Covid-victim brother

Indonesia's Jonatan Christie during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Musashino Forest Sports Plaza on July 24, 2021.
Indonesia's Jonatan Christie during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Musashino Forest Sports Plaza on July 24, 2021.PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (AFP) - Indonesia's Asian Games badminton champion Jonatan Christie is gunning for glory at the coronavirus-delayed Tokyo Olympics in memory of his brother who died of the disease.

Christie was competing at a tournament in Thailand earlier this year when he learned that his older brother, Ivan, had contracted the illness back home.

The 23-year-old Christie's mother, father and brother all eventually ended up in hospital, but his sibling suffered most.

"After I came back from Thailand, my mother said to me, 'he is already sick'," said Christie, who won the 2018 Asian Games.

"My mother and father were ill at the same time, but in a different hospital to my brother.

"I was going to my father and mother's hospital, and then in the evening I was going to my brother's hospital, so I had to take time out for them." Ivan sadly died, and it was up to Christie to tell his parents the heartbreaking news.

"After my brother passed away, I have not told my mother and father for maybe one week," said Christie, who defeated Aram Mahmoud of the Refugee Olympic Team in his Tokyo opener on Saturday (July 24).

"I kept it alone. After my father and mother is good again, then I had to tell them. Of course, my mother is crying a lot."

Christie, the world No. 7, says that his parents have now recovered and are "happy to see me in the Olympics".

But the memory of his brother is never far away as Christie attempts to stamp his mark on the badminton in the Japanese capital - even if his preparations were badly disrupted by the family tragedy.

He said: "This is for him and I want to do my best for him."

The coronavirus saw the Tokyo Games delayed by a year and most events are taking place without spectators.