Posted on July 20, 2021

Naomi Osaka Faced Race Backlash After Choosing Japan

Darragh Roche, Newsweek, July 17, 2021

Professional tennis player Naomi Osaka has said she faced a backlash for choosing to compete for Japan rather than the U.S. and that some criticism focused on her race.

“I’ve been playing under the Japan flag since I was 14. It was never even a secret that I’m going to play for Japan for the Olympics,” Osaka said in the series, which premiered on Thursday.

Osaka will compete for the East Asian nation at the Olympic Games this summer that will take place in Tokyo, Japan.

However, she said she faced some backlash for that decision {snip}

“‘I don’t choose America and suddenly people are like, ‘Your black card is revoked.’ And it’s like, African American isn’t the only Black, you know?” Osaka said.

“I don’t know, I feel like people really don’t know the difference between nationality and race because there’s a lot of Black people in Brazil, but they’re Brazilian,” she went on.

Osaka moved to New York when she was three years old. Her father’s parents live on Long Island. Osaka’s mother, Tamaki Osaka, spoke to The Wall Street Journal in 2018 about her daughter playing for the country of her birth.

“We made the decision that Naomi would represent Japan at an early age,” her mother said.