The runrún began at noon in Tokyo, when the International Tennis Federation (ITF) announced that the theoretical premiere of Naomi Osaka was falling off the poster and that her match against Zheng Saisai, which a priori was going to be the opening of the competition tennis, was postponed to Sunday without explanation. Later, the organism communicated that the change in the program obeyed to the request of the organization of the Games, neither more nor less. And from then on, as the hours progressed and the opening ceremony approached, all the pieces of the puzzle fit together, even more so when the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach, emphasized diversity and cohesion. of the event. Osaka, the iconic tennis player who hits from one side of the world to the other, had a message for the world.
Through her social networks, in the direction of the million followers that accompany her on Twitter and the two and a half million who observe her stylistic adventures on Instagram, the winner of four Grand Slams expressed: “I’m still trying to understand what she just said. pass. Without a doubt, this is the greatest sporting achievement and the highest honor that I will have in my entire life. I have no words to describe how I feel right now, but I am filled with gratitude and gratitude. I love you”.
Osaka was already pronounced as the first tennis player in history to light the cauldron at the Olympic Games, marking the path of where the times go: 23 years old, athlete, media and with an extraordinary resonance in the channels that seduce the new generations and magnetize them to mobile screens. But Osaka is that and much more. She is also the athlete with the highest income in the world – € 34.2 million, according to the magazine’s latest estimate. Forbes– and for a long time a multicultural and vindictive icon, turned into a gigantic loudspeaker in defense of various causes; from anti-racism to the empowerment of women, also putting on the table the concept of mental health in elite sport.
It was on May 30, when he made his debut at Roland Garros and announced that he would not attend the press conferences –obligatory by contract in tennis tournaments, under the risk of punishment if they do not attend– because, he alleged then, the exposure before the journalists and the format produced anxiety, in addition to having suffered a depression in the last two years. Finally, the Japanese decided to leave Paris the next day and on June 18, her team confirmed that she was resigning from Wimbledon to “take time and be with family and friends”, and that she would reappear before her people in Tokyo; that is, almost two months after having stepped on a track for the last time to compete.
From ‘Time’ y ‘Vogue’ to Barbie
However, despite the absence Osaka has not stopped play. It hasn’t been, but it was. He first broke his silence with a letter in the magazine Time in which she said she felt pressured by the media – “athletes are also human” – and in which she demanded a change in the communication model, since for her it has become “obsolete” and on many occasions it is aggressively one-way. Later, she was seen for the first time publicly with a brief speech at the delivery of the ESPY award for the best female athlete of the year, and a few days later she announced that her Barbie was already officially a registered Barbie.
But his media shock wave was not going to end there. He was also on the cover of the magazine Vogue And in the run-up to the Games, he premiered a documentary on the Netflix platform about his day to day life, how he deals with the problems he revealed in Paris and in which he explains his introversion and shyness, or that episode two years ago in the that after losing at the Australian Open, he put on his shoes at dawn, put on glasses and went out incognito to walk and reflect, feeling that he had let many people down; Among them, the basketball player Kobe Bryant, with whom he had struck up a beautiful friendship and who died two days later in a helicopter accident.
All this preceded the thunderous staging of this Friday, the end of a ceremony that brought it back to the fore and once again underlined its relief and impact, play or not play, rally or in a photo shoot. . Does not matter. Osaka, a phenomenon that seems to have no restraint, grows as a Japanese and commercial, sports and social totem. Modern banner. It had been 57 years since an active athlete — in 1964, the runner Yoshinori Sakai — had not lit the final flame. But she came.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.