Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka was granted the honour of lighting the Olympic cauldron during the Tokyo 2020 Opening Ceremony on Friday.
“Undoubtedly the greatest athletic achievement and honor I will ever have in my life,” four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka tweeted after the ceremony.
“I have no words to describe the feelings I have right now but I do know I am currently filled with gratefulness and thankfulness.”
— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@naomiosaka) July 23, 2021
Osaka, the final torchbearer at the National Stadium in Tokyo, is the first tennis player to light the Olympic cauldron.
Seeded second in the women’s singles draw for the Olympics, Osaka will open her campaign against China’s Zheng Saisai on Sunday.
This is the first time Osaka will be seen in action since she withdrew from Roland Garros.
The 23-year-old had pulled out from the clay-court Grand Slam after controversy erupted over her refusal to attend post-match press conferences.
However, Osaka wasn’t the only tennis player to play a crucial role in the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony.
— ITF (@ITFTennis) July 23, 2021
Petra Kvitova (Czechia), Jelena Ostapenko (Latvia), Rendy Lu (Chinese Taipei) and Veronika Cepede Royg (Paraguay) were flagbearers for their respective countries.
Even though only a limited number of athletes were part of the Parade of Nations, Alexander Zverev (Germany) and Andrey Rublev (Russian Olympic Committee) were seen rubbing shoulders with some of the best athletes in the world.