The 22-year-old tennis champ said on Instagram Friday said that she had been “thinking about how to articulate my thoughts on this for a couple days now.”
“Everyone knows how much the Olympics means to me and how proud I will be to participate in my home country,” said Osaka, who previously announced she would be representing Japan in the Olympics. “Of course I am disappointed that it won’t happen this year, but we’ll all be ready to go stronger than ever in 2021.”
“I support Prime Minister Abe’s brave decision and the IOC 100%. Sport will eventually unite us again and be there for us always, but that time is not now,” the athlete continued. “This is the time for people from all countries, backgrounds and races to rally together to save as many lives as we can. To me, that is the Olympic spirit.”
Osaka added, “To the people of Japan: stay strong, hang in there, and let’s show the world our beautiful country when the time is right in 2021. Stay safe everyone, take care of each other, be kind and we will make it through.”
Osaka was set to make her Olympics debut this year. She made history during the finals of the 2018 US Open when she defeated Serena Williams, becoming the first Japanese player to win a Grand Slam title.
At the 2020 Australian Open, she was knocked out by Coco Gauff in the third round.
Al Bello/Getty Naomi Osaka
Last Tuesday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach announced in a joint statement that the Summer Games would be postponed one year due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Though a specific date was not yet released, the statement said that the games would be “rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021.”
Many Olympians and Olympic hopefuls reacted to the news on social media, including American middle-distance runner Emma Coburn, who tweeted, “Our dreams aren’t cancelled, they are just postponed. Looking forward to dreams coming true for athletes everywhere in 2021.”
Olympic water polo player Kaleigh Gilchrist, simply wrote, “Same dream, different date.”
Our dreams aren’t cancelled, they are just postponed. Looking forward to dreams coming true for athletes everywhere in 2021 ❤️ #Tokyo2021— emma coburn (@emmajcoburn) March 23, 2020
Same dream, different date https://t.co/IsR7ZimCVn— Kaleigh Gilchrist (@KGilchrist15) March 24, 2020
IOC member Dick Pound initially confirmed the postponement news to USA Today last Monday.
“On the basis of the information the IOC has, postponement has been decided,” Pound explained. “The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the Games are not going to start on July 24, that much I know.”
The decision also came after several countries said they would not send athletes to Tokyo unless the games were postponed in order to not risk their health, including Canada and Australia.
As of March 28, there are at least 638,900 people in the world with confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 29,808 deaths. The virus has been detected in 171 countries.
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