Naomi Osaka supports Tokyo Games postponement, says 'Olympic spirit' is rallying to save lives

Naomi Osaka is disappointed the Olympics won’t be held this year in her home country, but supports the difficult decision organizers had to make in postponing the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games.

The two-time Grand Slam champion will represent Japan at the Tokyo Olympics and unveiled the games’ motto, “United by Emotion,” on Feb. 17. In a message Saturday on Instagram, she wrote that she supports the “brave decision” and that it was a time for everyone around the world to rally together in true “Olympic spirit” to save lives.

“I’ve been thinking about how to articulate my thoughts on this for a couple of days now, so here goes. Everyone knows how much the Olympics means to me and how proud I will be to participate in my home country. 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. 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.

“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. Love, Naomi.”

Her remarks echoed the motto she unveiled in a video last month. Via NBC Olympic Talk:

“The motto emphasizes the power of sport to bring together people from diverse backgrounds of every kind and allow them to connect and celebrate in a way that reaches beyond their differences,” according to Tokyo Olympic organizers. “‘United by Emotion’ expresses the hope that the spectators, volunteers, and athletes from over 200 National Olympic Committees and the Refugee Olympic Team gathering in Tokyo this summer, as well as the billions watching on television and online across the globe, will come together and understand that there is more that unites than divides them.”

The decision to push the games back to some time in 2021 was made on Tuesday after growing resistance from athletes and national Olympic committees. Up until that point, IOC officials had been steadfast in keeping the games as scheduled for July, even while nearly everything else was put on hold. The Olympic torch had already been lit and was on its way to Tokyo, but the relay was postponed.

Osaka, a former world No. 1, was born in Japan to a Japanese mother and Haitian father and was raised in the U.S. She was a dual citizen but under Japanese law had to chose one before her 22nd birthday. The 2018 U.S. Open and 2019 Australian Open winner is one of the country’s most recognizable athletes.

Naomi Osaka told fans the Olympic spirit is rallying together to save lives. (Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)

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