Two-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka says she intends to represent Japan at next year’s Tokyo Olympics.
The Olympic Channel says Osaka, who plays under a Japanese flag in WTA events and in the Fed Cup, has told national broadcaster NHK that she has started proceedings to choose Japanese citizenship.
Osaka holds dual nationality with Japan and the United States. She was born to a mother from Japan and a father from Haiti.
She turns 22 on Wednesday, the age at which Japanese law obliges dual-nationality citizens to choose one.
The Japanese Olympic Committee and a U.S.-based agent for Osaka could not immediately be reached outside business hours.
Japan, which has long prided itself on being homogeneous, is becoming more ethnically diverse. But prejudice remains against “haafu”, or half-Japanese, including cases of bullying against mixed-race children.
And while Japan has largely embraced Osaka, she still faces some indignities.
Two weeks ago, Osaka laughed off comments by a Japanese comedy duo who said she was “too sunburned” and “needed some bleach”, and turned the tables with a plug for Japanese cosmetic giant Shiseido, one of her sponsors.
In January, Japanese noodle company Nissin removed a commercial in which a cartoon character depicting Osaka was shown with pale skin and light brown hair, after it prompted an outcry.
With files from Reuters