Naomi Osaka Forsakes U.S. Citizenship to Play for Japan in 2020 Olympics
Two-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka has said that she will choose her Japanese citizenship over her American one in order to compete for Japan in the 2020 Olympics.
She currently holds both U.S. and Japan passports, but has a deadline of her 22nd birthday by when she must choose one, under Japanese law. She has decided to relinquish her American citizenship.
Osaka’s father is Haitian and her mother Japanese. The younger Osaka was born in Japan and for practical purposes, used her mother’s maiden name. The family has lived in the United States since she was three years old.
“I think everyone’s very excited, and ever since Rio (2016), people have been asking me about this.”
— Olympic Channel (@olympicchannel) October 10, 2019
Although Osaka was raised in the United States, her parents decided that their daughter would represent Japan. They said, “We made the decision that Naomi would represent Japan at an early age. She was born in Osaka and was brought up in a household of Japanese and Haitian culture. Quite simply, Naomi and her sister Mari have always felt Japanese so that was our only rationale. It was never a financially motivated decision nor were we ever swayed either way by any national federation.”
This decision may have also been motivated by a lack of interest from the United States Tennis Association (USTA) when Naomi was still a young player. The USTA later offered Naomi the opportunity to train at their national training center in Boca Raton when she was 16 years old, but she declined.
Osaka is currently ranked third among female tennis players worldwide.