Twenty-three-year-old tennis star Naomi Osaka said it was an easy decision for her to choose to represent Japan over America in the upcoming Olympics, noting that she’s received backlash from critics saying her “black card” has been “revoked.”
“I’ve been playing under the Japan flag since I was 14,” the tennis standout said in a new self-titled Netflix docuseries. “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,’” disclosed Osaka, who is part Japanese and part Haitian.
“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.”
As noted by Insider, Osaka relinquished her American citizenship back in 2019, before she turned 22:
“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.”
The same year, the young player discussed on a Japanese broadcast her desire to represent Japan in the Olympics, emphasizing her “pride of the country.”
“It is a special feeling to aim for the Olympics as a representative of Japan,” she said. “I think that playing with the pride of the country will make me feel more emotional.”
“We made the decision that Naomi would represent Japan at an early age,” Osaka’s parents told The Wall Street Journal in 2018. “She was born in Osaka and was brought up in a household of Japanese and Haitian culture.”
“Quite simply, Naomi and her sister Mari have always felt Japanese so that was our only rationale. It was never a financially motivated decision nor were we ever swayed either way by any national federation,” they said.
Osaka became a household name back in 2018 when she won in an upset against tennis great Serena Williams during the U.S. Open’s women’s final.
However, Osaka’s impressive win was overshadowed by Williams’ incensed outburst at umpire Carlos Ramos, whom she smeared as a sexist.
The Daily Wire reported at the time on the outburst:
During her final U.S. Open match against 20-year-old Naomi Osaka, Williams erupted when Ramos docked the athlete for illegally receiving coaching from the sidelines (which was later admitted to by Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou), smashing her racket, and committing “verbal abuse.” The tennis icon branded Ramos a “thief” and a sexist and demanded an apology. “There’s men out here who do a lot worse. But because I’m a woman, because I’m a woman, you’re gonna take this away from me? That is not right,” Williams lashed out. She also told Ramos directly, “You will never do another one of my matches.”
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