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Naomi Osaka shines in closing the opening ceremony

The Tokyo Olympic Games are off and running. The opening ceremony kicked off the festivities Friday and ended with tennis superstar Naomi Osaka lighting the Olympic cauldron.

The traditional parade of nations saw 206 nations enter the Olympic stadium in Tokyo, and more than 11,000 athletes will participate in the Games. The opening ceremony culminates with the end of the Olympic torch relay and the lighting of the cauldron. It is the poignant, dramatic apex of the ceremony, and some notable athletes have done the honor of lighting the cauldron, including Muhammad Ali, Steve Nash, Wayne Gretzky, Rafer Johnson and the 1980 U.S. men’s hockey team.

Osaka, a four-time Grand Slam champion, is a favorite to win gold and one of the superstars of these Games. It was an incredible moment as she completed the Olympic relay.

“Undoubtedly the greatest athletic achievement and honor I will ever have in my life,” Osaka wrote on Twitter. “I have no words to describe the feelings …”

Osaka is having an iconic summer. She has become a social justice leader and the latest athlete advocate for taking care of your mental health after not participating in news conferences at the French Open.

“I’ve often felt that people have no regard for athletes’ mental health and this rings very true whenever I see a press conference or partake in one,” she wrote on social media at the time. “We’re often sat there and asked questions that we’ve been asked multiple times before or asked questions that bring doubt into our minds and I’m just not going to subject myself to people that doubt me.”

She was quoted in Time magazine as saying, “It’s OK to not be OK.”

As ESPN’s D’Arcy Maine wrote, Osaka has carved her own path to superstardom. She will begin her quest for a gold medal on Sunday.



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