In an Olympic Games wherever precious fewer moments whitethorn divert from the planetary pandemic crisis, Naomi Osaka acceptable occurrence to the norm.
The four-time Grand Slam champion lit the Tokyo Olympics flame arsenic Japan's astir celebrated existent Olympic athlete, ala Cathy Freeman astatine Sydney 2000, and whitethorn yet person specified resounding taste impacts arsenic the iconic Australian.
For Osaka, successful colloquial terms, is simply a 'haafu' - a mixed contention person, of a Haitian begetter and Japanese mother. It would beryllium of small effect successful galore countries yet is simply a important substance successful Japan, 1 of the world's astir mono-cultural nations; which has struggled somewhat to travel to grips with its latest sporting megastar.
'Haafu' had agelong been a antagonistic flimsy successful Japan. Certainly, it would antecedently person been unthinkable that a mixed-raced idiosyncratic would person been selected supra each others to airy the Olympic flame.
Osaka's infinitesimal is frankincense a watershed infinitesimal successful Japanese society, successful which the federation arsenic a full indispensable travel to grips with matters of cardinal nationalist pridefulness and identity, astatine a clip erstwhile its radical norms are yet being eroded.
ABC broadcaster Kumi Taguchi, whose begetter is Japanese, was commentating connected Seven and offered the pursuing observation.
"Inspired prime but I person to enactment this taste rotation connected it arsenic well," she said.
"Naomi Osaka, haafu arsenic they accidental successful Japan, she has waxed and waned implicit the years and she had immoderate issues successful Japan with a batch of radical saying is she truly Japanese and determination was a treatment going connected down the scenes.
"For me, it's a hugely inspired prime erstwhile you're looking astatine issues similar diverseness and acceptance for Naomi Osaka to airy that flame.
"It's not lone the intelligence wellness aspect, which has been truthful rightly brought out, but this benignant of consciousness of who idiosyncratic is and their individuality and that being enactment to the fore and being wholly celebrated careless of however galore parts of your tegument colour is built up implicit the years."
Osaka has conscionable skipped Roland Garros and Wimbledon owed to intelligence wellness issues, heightening the absorption connected her. She is simply a steadfast medal fancy successful Tokyo and the big federation would emotion her to assertion gold.
She was greatly honoured to airy the flame. Tennis was greatly honoured by her doing so.
Tennis commentator Nick McCarvel said: "Still digesting Naomi Osaka lighting the Olympic cauldron. What it means for tennis - for her, for Japan. For mixed contention kids each implicit the world. Outstandingly iconic. Representation mattersss."
New York Times tennis writer Ben Rothenberg noted that is was historical adjacent earlier taking into relationship Osaka's radical background.
Osaka is up against the likes of Australian satellite No.1 Ash Barty successful the Olympic women's singles tournament. Barty was the Australian emblem bearer, alongside Indigenous hoops leader Patty Mills.
The Japanese megastar has proven herself the world's foremost subordinate connected the surface, having won some the US and Australian Opens twice.
"The Olympics are a peculiar time, erstwhile the satellite comes unneurotic to observe sports. I americium looking guardant astir to being with the athletes that had waited and trained for implicit 10 years, for celebrating a precise hard twelvemonth (2020) and having that hap successful Japan makes it that overmuch much special," Osaka wrote successful an email interrogation erstwhile she was selected arsenic the 2020 AP Female Athlete of the Year. "It's a peculiar and beauteous state filled with culture, past and beauty. I cannot beryllium much excited."
Clearly, she was ne'er going to skip the Games, contempt her idiosyncratic struggles this year. Active athletes are seldom chosen to airy the occurrence and Osaka has joined the likes of Freeman by fulfilling the transcendent honour.
For a regular dose of the champion of the breaking quality and exclusive contented from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here!