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"I have no words": Naomi Osaka ignites Olympic cauldron at Tokyo's Opening Ceremony
With no fans in the stands, the four-time major champion kicked off the Summer Games on Friday.
Published Jul 23, 2021
As Naomi Osaka’s return to competition and the Olympic Opening Ceremony coincided, it seemed meant to be that the world No. 2 had the honor of lighting the Olympic Cauldron on Friday night. Osaka memorialized the moment on Instagram, posting a series of photos of her walking up the steps to the cauldron, as well as a video of her doing the honor of lighting it.
“Undoubtedly the greatest athletic achievement and honor I will ever have in my life. I have no words to describe the feelings I have right now but I do know I am currently filled with gratefulness and thankfulness,” she captioned her post.
Proudly representing Japan, Osaka wore an all-white outfit with red detailing, paying homage to the Japanese flag. Even her braids matched, tied back into a ponytail and dyed red. Seeing the 23-year-old back in the spotlight (literally) was a long-awaited and exciting moment for the tennis world and beyond. Her official return to court will be Sunday, July 25, when she takes on Saisai Zheng of China.
The torch was passed to many champions and heroes before it reached Osaka, from healthcare first responders to Tsuchida Wakako, a seven-time Paralympian and three-time gold medalist. As the final torchbearer, the four-time Grand Slam champion was awarded the huge honor of lighting the cauldron, something she won’t likely forget anytime soon. The moment signified hope and unity for the world, and represented the “Stronger Together” motto of this year’s Olympics.
And this year, the lighting of that cauldron meant more than ever- for Osaka, for the Olympics, and for the world.