The tennis superstar Naomi Osaka has hit back at those who criticized her decision to represent Japan instead of the United States at this summer’s Olympics, saying that her plan to play for the Asian nation shouldn’t have been a surprise to commentators.
“I’ve been playing under the Japan flag since I was 14. It was never even a secret that I’m going to play for Japan for the Olympics,” she said while discussing the backlash during an episode of her new self-titled docuseries on Netflix.
“So I don’t choose America and suddenly people are like, ‘Your Black card is revoked.’ And it’s like, African American isn’t the only Black, you know? I don’t know, I feel like people really don’t know the difference between nationality and race because there’s a lot of Black people in Brazil, but they’re Brazilian.”
Osaka announced that she would be relinquishing her American citizenship in 2019. The tennis star who was born in Japan but moved to New York at the age of 3 previously held dual American and Japanese citizenship. But under Japan’s Nationality Act, those who hold dual citizenship must choose one before their 22nd birthday.
Osaka’s mother is Japanese, and her father is Haitian.