Naomi Osaka Lit the Olympic Cauldron at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Opening Ceremony

Tennis star Naomi Osaka made a surprise appearance at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony on Friday to light the Olympic cauldron.

tokyo, japan july 23 naomi osaka of team japan lights the olympic cauldron with the olympic torch during the opening ceremony of the tokyo 2020 olympic games at olympic stadium on july 23, 2021 in tokyo, japan photo by patrick smithgetty images
(Image credit: Patrick Smith)
  • During the opening ceremony of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics on Friday, tennis star Naomi Osaka made a surprise appearance to light the Olympic cauldron.
  • The 23-year-old, four-time grand slam champion was born in Japan to a Japanese mother and Haitian-American father and is competing in the Olympics for the first time this year.
  • "Undoubtedly the greatest athletic achievement and honor I will ever have in my life," Osaka wrote on Instagram of the honor. "I have no words to describe the feelings I have right now but I do know I am currently filled with gratefulness and thankfulness."

Naomi Osaka played an important role in the opening ceremony of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo Friday night. The 23-year-old tennis star had the honor of lighting the Olympic cauldron and officially kicking off the summer games.

Osaka, whose mother is Japanese and father is Haitian-American, was born in Japan and moved to the United States when she was three years old. The four-time grand slam champion competing in the Olympics for the first time this year, making her debut in her home country.

While her appearance at the end of the opening ceremony was a surprise, some did catch a major hint that Osaka might be participating in the cauldron-lighting ceremony when, earlier on Friday, Olympic organizers requested to have her opening match pushed back from Saturday to Sunday, according to CNN.

On Friday, Osaka took to Instagram to share what the honor meant to her. "Undoubtedly the greatest athletic achievement and honor I will ever have in my life," she captioned a series of photos commemorating the moment. "I have no words to describe the feelings I have right now but I do know I am currently filled with gratefulness and thankfulness ❤️ love you guys thank you."

In a followup post featuring video of her lighting the cauldron, Osaka wrote, "still trying to wrap my head around what just happened, crazy."

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