Fabio Fognini, Italian tennis star, has blamed the extreme heat in Tokyo, Japan, for his repeated use of an anti-gay slur during an Olympic match.
The 34-year-old was beaten 6-2, 3-6, 6-2, by Russian Olympic Committee player, Daniil Medvedev, in the third round on Wednesday.
During the match, Fognini repeatedly berated himself as a “frocio,” a derogatory term in Italian equivalent to English language homophobic slurs like “faggot” or “poof.”
The world number 31, who took to Instagram on Thursday, said the temperature which soared as high as 33 degrees Celsius, affected his head.
“The heat went to my head! In today’s match I used a really stupid expression towards myself,” he wrote across a rainbow background,” he wrote.
“Obviously I didn’t want to offend anyone’s sensibilities. I love the LGBT community and I apologise for the nonsense that came out of me.”
However, Fognini is not a stranger to controversy.
At US Open in 2017, he was kicked out of the doubles tournament for insulting the chair umpire, and was subsequently handed a suspended ban of two Grand Slam tournaments.