Chilean former tennis world number one Marcelo Rios has suggested people should be shot for violating coronavirus lockdown rules as he backed the no-nonsense approach of Filipino strongman leader Rodrigo Duterte.

Philippines President Duterte said at the start of April that he would hand police free rein on dealing with lockdown violators and “troublemakers.

“If there is trouble or the situation arises that people fight and your lives are on the line, shoot them dead,” Duterte told police. 

“Do you understand? Dead. Instead of causing trouble, I’ll send you to the grave.”

That message appears to have resontated with former tennis ace Rios, 44, who this week shared a post featuring Duterte with his 256,000 Instagram followers.

“I don’t know what kind of government this country has, but I’m sure that by killing two people who have not respected the quarantine no one else would do it,” Rios wrote in endorsement of Duterte’s approach.  

“Attention, it’s my personal thought: I think when things get out of hand, you have to use a heavy hand.”

A post shared by Marcelo Rios Oficial (@marceloriosoficial) on May 13, 2020 at 6:41am PDT

The call for strong-arm measures in his Chilean homeland met with a mixed reaction from Rios’ followers, with some agreeing but others suggesting the call to arms was too drastic.

“Unfortunately you cannot be right with God and with the Devil, you must always choose, you have made a mistake,” one reply read.  

A post shared by Marcelo Rios Oficial (@marceloriosoficial) on Sep 4, 2018 at 6:47am PDT

According to the latest statistics, Chile has seen just over 37,000 cases of Covid-19 but so far suffered a relatively small official death toll of 368.

Previously, Rios had appeared critical of the government’s response, querying their ability to bring the rising number of infections under control.

“What would be the plan B of [health minister] Mr. Mañalich, from what I understand there is nothing yet, the only thing I hear are statistics and not solutions,” he wrote.

A post shared by Marcelo Rios Oficial (@marceloriosoficial) on Nov 21, 2018 at 11:34am PST

Rios became the first Latin American player to top ATP rankings when he held the number one spot for six weeks in 1998, but is the only player to have achieved the feat in the Open era without winning a Grand Slam. 

His best run at a Major was the Australian Open final in 1998, where he lost to Petr Korda. Rios picked up five Masters titles during his career, which ended in 2004 after struggles with a back injury.