Naomi Osaka Lit the Cauldron at the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics

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The torch at the opening ceremony in Tokyo ended when tennis star Naomi Osaka illuminated one of the most memorable parts of the opening ceremony, the Olympic cauldron.

Following in the footsteps of Muhammad Ali, Paavo Nurmi, Rafer Johnson, Midori Ito, Yuna Kim and Wayne Gretzky, Osaka climbed a stylized Pyramid-shaped Mount Fuji to light the cauldron.

As always, this year was the symbolic start of a two-week rivalry in the strangest possible conditions with empty stadiums due to a global pandemic.

Osaka, one of the best tennis players in the world, climbed a long set of stairs with the Olympic torch in hand and lit the cauldron sitting in a blooming flower.

Her mother is Japanese, her father is Haitian, and she is wildly popular in Osaka, Japan and all over the world. He skipped Wimbledon to spend time with friends and family before taking center stage at the Summer Games, where there would be major pressure for his country to win a gold medal.

Osaka represents many things at once during this Olympic cycle thanks to her stardom. He is one of many mixed race athletes in Japan. challenging long-held notions about racing in the country. The 23-year-old represents a new generation of athlete and celebrity. whose voice appeared last year on various social issues, including race, both in Japan and in the United States and beyond.

Her appearance at the ceremony prompted a move in the opening round match of the women’s singles tournament against China’s Zheng Saisai. The match was originally scheduled for Saturday morning, but was postponed to Sunday.

Juliet Macur contributing reporting.

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