Tennis Phenom's Big Move: Give Up US Citizenship

Naomi Osaka had to make a decision by age 22, per Japan's rules
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 11, 2019 8:58 AM CDT
Tennis Star to Turn in US Citizenship for Another
Naomi Osaka is seen at the China Open tennis tournament in Beijing on Oct. 3, 2019.   (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

Naomi Osaka, born in Japan to a Japanese mom and Haitian-American dad, currently holds both US and Japanese citizenship. But once she turns 22 next week, Japan's nationality laws dictate she'll have to choose between the two—and the tennis star says she's going with the latter, ABC News reports. That means she'll be playing for Japan at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo. "It's definitely gonna be very special," Osaka tells NHK World. "I think that there's no other place that I'd rather play my first Olympics." She adds it will be "one of the most memorable things that will ever happen to me."

Per a 2018 Wall Street Journal article, Osaka was born in Osaka and moved to the US when she was 3; she lived on Long Island until 2006, when her family moved to Florida. "We made the decision that Naomi would represent Japan at an early age," Osaka's parents told the paper. "She was ... brought up in a household of Japanese and Haitian culture. Quite simply, Naomi and her sister Mari have always felt Japanese." CBS News notes that Japan has never won an Olympic gold medal for tennis, meaning the two-time Grand Slam winner and victor at this year's China Open tournament has now raised national hopes. She's currently ranked No. 3 in the world. (More Naomi Osaka stories.)

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