Naomi Osaka provided the symbolic kickoff to the Summer Olympic Games during the Opening Ceremony today (July 23) by having the honor of lighting the Olympic cauldron.
The popular tennis star, who was born in Japan, will take part in tennis competition at the Tokyo Games and is a member of Team Japan.
Osaka shared via Twitter about this moment, “Undoubtedly the greatest athletic achievement and honor I will ever have in my life. I have no words to describe the feelings I have right now but I do know I am currently filled with gratefulness and thankfulness. Love you guys thank you.”
Undoubtedly the greatest athletic achievement and honor I will ever have in my life. I have no words to describe the feelings I have right now but I do know I am currently filled with gratefulness and thankfulness ❤️ love you guys thank you. pic.twitter.com/CacWQ5ToUD— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@naomiosaka) July 23, 2021
Osaka drew backlash over her decision to represent Japan in the Olympics. Insider.com notes, “Osaka announced that she would be relinquishing her American citizenship in 2019. The tennis star who was born in Japan but moved to New York at the age of 3 previously held dual American and Japanese citizenship. But under Japan’s Nationality Act, those who hold dual citizenship must choose one before their 22nd birthday.”
Osaka also said in her self-titled Netflix docuseries, “I’ve been playing under the Japan flag since I was 14. It was never even a secret that I’m going to play for Japan for the Olympics. So I don’t choose America and suddenly people are like, ‘Your Black card is revoked.’ And it’s like, African American isn’t the only Black, you know? I don’t know, I feel like people really don’t know the difference between nationality and race because there’s a lot of Black people in Brazil, but they’re Brazilian.”