BREAKING NEWS Suspected Homicide Leaves One Man Dead In Lafayette Parish Full Story
SEVERE WX : Flood Warning View Alerts
STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Naomi Osaka lights Olympic cauldron at Tokyo Opening Ceremony 

Article Image

Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka, 23, lit the Olympic cauldron during the Opening Ceremony at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Posted: Jul 23, 2021 12:12 PM
Updated: Jul 23, 2021 12:14 PM

World No. 2 tennis player Naomi Osaka, who represents Japan, served as the final Olympic torchbearer for the Tokyo Olympic Games, lighting the Olympic flame during Friday night's Opening Ceremony. 

The flame was originally lit at a ceremony in Olympia on March 12, 2020, but as a precaution against COVID-19, the Greek portion of the torch relay was canceled. After keeping the flame lit for a year because of the Olympic postponement, the Olympic Torch Relay began in earnest on March 25, 2021 from the J-Village National Training Centre in Fukushima Prefecture, and then traveled through all 47 prefectures across Japan over a period of 121 days before reaching Tokyo on July 9.

The 23-year-old Osaka, who has a Haitian father and Japanese mother, has represented the host nation in international competition since she was 14 years old. She was born in Japan but moved to New York with her family when she was 3.

In order to compete for Japan at the Tokyo Olympics, her first Games, Osaka had to give up her U.S. citizenship before she turned 22. 

When Tokyo hosted the 1964 Olympics, a then 19-year-old Japanese man named Yoshinori Sakai, who was born outside Hiroshima just hours after the atomic bombing, served as the torchbearer who lit the cauldron. 

Osaka is a four-time Grand Slam champion, with her first title coming at the 2018 U.S. Open, when she became the first Japanese player to win a Grand Slam singles title. After winning back-to-back Slams in late 2018 and early 2019 — the U.S. Open and Australian Open — Osaka became the first Asian tennis player to be ranked No. 1 in the world. 

In 2020, Osaka emerged as one of sports' most prominent advocates for social justice, wearing a mask bearing the names of Breonna Taylor, Elijiah McClain, Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, George Floyd, Philando Castile and Tamir Rice at each of her matches during her championship run at the U.S. Open. 

Her international appeal has translated into major commercial success. From May 1, 2020 to May 2, 2021, Osaka beat her own record for the highest-earning year for a female athlete, taking in $60 million from endorsements ($55 million) and prize money combined, according to Forbes. She first set the mark — which surpassed a Serena Williams record — from May 2019 to May 2020, when Osaka earned $37 million. 

Ahead of these Olympics, Osaka took a two-month hiatus from tennis after withdrawing from the French Open following her decision not to do press conferences at the tournament — one she said was for the sake of her mental health. The choice drew public backlash from Grand Slam organizers and incited debate around the sports world about athletes' obligation, or lack thereof, to the media. 

Osaka begins her Olympic tournament against No. 52-ranked Zheng Saisai on Sunday.

Lafayette
Partly Cloudy
85° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 74°
Feels Like: 91°
New Iberia
Partly Cloudy
84° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 74°
Feels Like: 91°
Ville Platte
Partly Cloudy
86° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 93°
Abbeville
Partly Cloudy
83° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 75°
Feels Like: 87°
Crowley
Partly Cloudy
82° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 73°
Feels Like: 87°
St. Martinville
Partly Cloudy
84° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 74°
Feels Like: 91°
Opelousas
Partly Cloudy
85° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 92°
Warm Start to the Week Before Big Cooldown Arrives

Latest Video

Image

COVID LONG HAULERS

Image

Showers Sunday and Cool Weather Next Week

Image

Local Business Beats the Odds

Image

Showers Tomorrow, Big Changes Next Week

Image

LCA Tops Acadiana 14-13

${item.thumbnail.title}

Major companies requiring Covid-19 vaccine

Image

Tracking rain this weekend

Image

Hurricane Relief Fund For Child Care Providers

Image

National Dance Day with Distinction Dance Co

Image

Meet Hashbrown! Lafayette Animal Shelter & Care Center Newest Adoptable Pet

Community Events