As they celebrated Naomi Osaka’s victory in the final of the US Open in New York City’s Flushing Meadows on Saturday, Tokyoites were eager to embrace their heroines’ stand against racial injustice.
Osaka, who won her third Grand Slam title with a victory over Victoria Azarenka, has used her platform to support the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, wearing a mask bearing the name of a different African American before each of her seven matches in the championship.
She had donned masks bearing the names of Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, George Floyd and Philando Castile.
On Saturday, she walked onto the court wearing a mask with the name of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy who was shot and killed by a white police officer in Cleveland, Ohio, in 2014.
Osaka, who has a Japanese mother and Haitian father, has become the face of a changing Japan coming to terms with challenges to its image as a racially homogenous society.
Her efforts on and off the court in New York City were yesterday welcomed by Tokyoites.
“I jumped for joy [at her win],” said Kazuyoshi Hosoya, who was looking to buy an edition of a newspaper celebrating Osaka’s victory. “I know she is protesting and I have heard on TV that she was doing her best to use all the seven face masks [by reaching the final].”
“I think this is amazing that she actually accomplished using all the seven masks,” Hosoya said.
Osaka’s strident views on social media have made her an icon for many young Japanese.
“I am very happy that Naomi, who is an influential person, said ‘Black Lives Matter’ in a public place,” 16-year-old Mari Maeda said. “I am happy that her message was received not only in the US, but also the world, including Japan.”
A report in Japanese newspaper Mainichi on Friday cited unnamed sources at one of her sponsors as criticizing her BLM stance, saying they would prefer her to concentrate on tennis.
With her US Open win, Osaka cannot be accused of letting her activism become a distraction and going by the comments of those in Tokyo, the sponsor might have misjudged public sentiment.
“Including myself, I think there are many people who are not interested in a topic like racism, but [Osaka] has created an opportunity to open the topic,” said Masateru Tanimoto, an office worker. “I think it is a good thing that the issue has become a topic of discussion.”
Additional reporting by AFP
Red Bull team chief Christian Horner has welcomed Ferrari’s U-turn to support a Formula One engine freeze from 2022. The move gives Red Bull a chance to continue using Honda power after the Japanese supplier exits next year. Speaking ahead of yesterday’s final practice for today’s Bahrain Grand Prix, Horner said that Ferrari’s decision was encouraging for F1 and everyone involved in the business end of the sport. “It’s positive news,” he said. “I think all the manufacturers, all the CEOs of the automotive industry, they all recognize the investment and cost of these engines, particularly with the new technology coming for 2026,
‘ONE LAST APPLAUSE’: An homage of cheers resounded through Buenos Aires on Wednesday night, while earlier a contingent met at the Obelisk to remember their hero Stunned Argentines were on Wednesday plunged into grief by the death of the country’s favorite son Diego Maradona, a sublimely gifted sporting hero they saw as “the most human of gods.” The news fell like a hammer blow to a nation beaten down by months of economic crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic, but one where soccer is seen as a panacea for all ills. At 10pm, Buenos Aires exploded in cheers, horns, sirens and lights for the man who famously wore the No. 10, after a viral social media message called for “one last applause.” The homage resounded throughout the night in all
Taiwan Steel on Sunday celebrated with the Taiwan Football Premier League trophy, despite a 3-1 loss in their final match of the season, while Taipower claimed second place and Tatung’s Ange Samuel scored on a breakaway to claim the Golden Boot with 20 goals. Ahead of all four of Sunday’s matches players, coaches and fans observed a minute’s silence prior to kickoff in honor of Argentine great Diego Maradona, who died aged 60 on Wednesday last week, following a directive received from FIFA. Already assured the title, Taiwan Steel manager Lo Chi-chong fielded a second-string team against defending champions Tatung in Taoyuan. Lo
Argentina’s Pablo Matera yesterday said that he was “deeply ashamed” as he was stripped of the captaincy and suspended along with two other players over messages he wrote on Twitter in 2011 to 2013. Just weeks after leading the Pumas to their first win over the All Blacks, the Argentina Rugby Union “revoked” Matera’s captaincy and suspended him, along with lock Guido Petti and hooker Santiago Socino. “The Argentina Rugby Union forcefully rejects the discriminatory and xenophobic comments published by members of the Pumas squad on social media,” a statement read. In the tweets, since deleted, Matera spoke of “running over blacks” with