Disbelief, support in Japan after Naomi Osaka’s elimination

winknews.com -- Jul 28
“Masaka” — or, in English, “No way.” That’s how an incredulous Japan reacted Tuesday to the unexpectedly early loss of Naomi Osaka at the Tokyo Olympics, erasing her chances for gold.

And people quickly turned to an outpouring of sympathy.

“Watching you gave me courage. You don’t have to win a medal. Watching you play is enough for all your fans,” said Yuji Taida, a novelist.

Japanese media relayed urgent reports on her loss, with “masaka” in the headlines.

“Her mother’s motherland. Her dream to stand at the pinnacle, with the rising sun on her heart, was not to be,” reported Sports Hochi, a Japanese daily sports newspaper.

The stock of Japanese tennis racket maker Yonex, one of her major corporate sponsors, plunged Tuesday, just as she lost to former French Open finalist Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic 6-1, 6-4 in the third round. The stock recouped some of the losses but ended down 1.8%.

The disappointment came just four days after Osaka left the nation teary-eyed by running up a Mount Fuji-like set at the National Stadium and lighting the Olympic cauldron with her torch to open the Olympics.

For many here, the Japan-born Osaka, whose father is Haitian, has grown to personify a ray of hope for diversity in a nation long linked with discrimination and intolerance for differences.

“Undoubtedly the greatest athletic achievement and honor I will ever have in my life,” Osaka had written on Instagram about her role in her first Olympics.

Some Japanese said it broke their hearts to imagine how much Osaka had wanted to win the gold for her country.

- winknews.com