The Calm app has pledged to pay $15,000 to a French mental health organization in support of Naomi Osaka — and to do the same for any other French Open player who opts out of press appearances
One of the hardest things to swallow about Naomi Osaka‘s situation at the French Open is that, on top of dropping out of the tournament, she’s been fined $15,000 for choosing not to participate in press events she says are damaging to her mental health. No one should be forced to choose between protecting their own health and paying $15,000 — that’s just absurd. And so, to show support for Osaka and to take a stand for the importance of mental health, the Calm app has pledged to donate $15,000, the same amount as Osaka’s fine, to a French mental health organization.
The donation is going to the French segment of Laureus Sport, a global organization that’s working to help kids transform their lives and mental health through sports. But it gets even better — Calm has pledged to also pay the fines of any other players who choose not to participate in Grand Slam press conferences throughout 2021, and match the fine amounts with more donations to organizations that support mental health and fitness.
“Mental health is health,” the company announced in a tweet. “To support Naomi Osaka’s decision to prioritize her mental health, Calm is donating $15,000 to @LaureusSport in France, an organization doing incredible work in the mental health space to transform the lives of young people through the power of sport.”
“But this is bigger than any individual player,” the company continued. “Calm will also pay the fine for players opting out of 2021 Grand Slam media appearances for mental health reasons, and we will match the fine with a $15,000 donation to @LaureusSport.”
Osaka announced earlier this week that amid the fine and growing press coverage, she was withdrawing from the French Open. “I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept that my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer. More importantly, I would never trivialize mental health or use the term lightly,” she explained.
It’s sparked a huge conversation about pro athletes’ obligations to the press and their fans, and it’s refreshing to see a big business like Calm taking the only correct side: That no one, not even a professional athlete, should be forced to jeopardize their mental health just to do their job. We hope this conversation continues, because Osaka has set a precedent that could completely change the way we look at pro athletes — and maybe even other jobs, too. A world in which no one is expected to harm themselves for their job is a better world for all of us.