Naomi Osaka Isn’t Japanese Enough To Light The Olympic Flame, According To This White Journo

More classy journalism from 'The Australian' today.

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Yesterday, journalist Will Swanton wrote an article for The Australian discussing whether or not tennis player Naomi Osaka is Japanese enough to light the Olympic flame.

A four-time Grand Slam-winning athlete, Naomi Osaka lit the Olympic cauldron during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics’ opening ceremony. Osaka is representing Japan in tennis, after playing under the Japanese flag in professional tennis tournaments for several years. Osaka is a Japanese citizen, born in Japan, to a Japanese mother and Haitian father.

But none of this appears to be enough for The Australian. Swanton begins his article with a tribute to the athlete and Hiroshima survivor who last lit the torch at the 1964 games, Yoshinari Sakai. “The Tokyo Olympic committee got it exactly right with Sakai, but they got it wrong with Naomi Osaka” wrote Swanton.

Swanton wrote that Osaka is a “bit of a blow-in”, citing that she has flown into Tokyo from Florida for the Games. While he claims, “this yarn isn’t a criticism of Osaka” the article is overflowing with xenophobic and nationalist rhetoric that mixed and multinational people like Osaka often experience.

Citing Osaka’s move to the US from Japan at the age of 3 as evidence for her lack of connection to her home country, Swanton writes, “Osaka has been there ever since. If these were State of Origin eligibility rules, she’d be wearing a US jersey”.

The journalist also offers up Osaka’s dual citizenship as evidence for why she shouldn’t have been permitted to light the flame. “Perhaps she feels Japanese down to her bootstraps, but she carries dual passports,” he wrote.

Towards the end of the piece, Swanton offers an alternative to Osaka for lighting the torch, writing, “The flame would have been better lit by Sadaharu Oh. The most revered athlete in Japan, a baseballer with a world record of 868 home runs.”

Oh is an interesting alternative for Swanton to suggest, as the athlete is also a mixed Japanese athlete — his father was Chinese — who holds dual citizenship with Taiwan and Japan.

Swanton even goes so far as to imply that Japan, as a nation, doesn’t support Osaka, concluding his article by quoting a Japan Times headline that asked, “How Japanese is Naomi Osaka?”. Swanton doesn’t seem to realise the article attached to that headline is one that argues for Osaka’s Japanese identity.

The Japan Times article concludes that Osaka represents the multicultural reality and future of Japan. As the article’s author Kuni Miyake writes “we will have millions of people like Osaka who will enrich and evolve the Japanese nation. Let them play their role in our community”.

Swanton’s attitude is a common one here in Australia, and hardly unexpected in a country infamous for its White Australia policy. And with classy articles like these in circulation, it’s no wonder Osaka doesn’t like talking to the press.

Naomi Osaka won her first Olympic match against Chinese player, Zheng Saisai.

(Image: Getty Images/Laurence Griffiths)