Naomi Osaka pulls out of tournament over ‘continued genocide of Black people’

It followed Wednesday’s postponement of NBA, Major League Baseball, MLS and WNBA games following the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin and the protests that followed.

Japan’s Osaka took to Twitter on Wednesday night, local New York time, after beating Anett Kontaveit in the quarter-finals and speaking to reporters.

“Hello, as many of you know, I was due to play my semi-final match tomorrow,” began the two-time Grand Slam winner. “However, before I become an athlete, I am a black woman. And as a black woman, I feel like there are much more important issues at hand that require immediate attention, rather than watching me play tennis.

“I don’t expect anything drastic to happen if I don’t play, but if I can strike up a conversation in a predominantly white sport, I consider it a step in the right direction.

“Watching the continued black genocide at the hands of the police honestly makes my stomach ache.

“I’m exhausted from having a new hashtag every few days and I’m extremely tired of having this same conversation over and over again. When will that ever be enough?”

The 22-year-old ended her post with the hashtags Jacob Blake, Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain and George Floyd.

Taylor was shot dead by plainclothes police in March, McClain died last August after being strangled by police, and Floyd died in Minneapolis in May after being pinned down by police. An officer kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for several minutes.

Osaka – who has lived most of his life in the United States and now resides in Los Angeles – joined the protests in Minneapolis in the days following Floyd’s death.

Memorial visited for Floyd

“We visited the George Floyd Memorial and met those who have come together to mourn another foolish act and a life lost for no reason,” she wrote in Esquire in July. “Being on the court in Minneapolis was what felt right then.

“When I came back to Los Angeles I signed petitions, protested and donated, like many of us. But I kept wondering what I could do to help. make this world a better place for my children? I decided it was time to talk about systemic racism and police brutality. “

On Twitter, WTA founder Billie Jean King, a decades-long advocate for equality, called Osaka’s decision “brave and impactful.”

“Athletes using platforms for good make so much sense,” King said.

A statement released on Wednesday by tennis governing bodies, the WTA, ATP and USTA around midnight said Wednesday: “As a sport, tennis collectively takes a stand against racial inequalities and social injustice that once again has been brought to the fore in the United States.

“The USTA, ATP Tour and WTA have decided to recognize this moment in time by suspending tournament play at the Western and Southern Open on Thursday August 27th. Play will resume on Friday August 28th. . “


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