Tokyo: Japanese athlete Naomi Osaka on Friday became the first tennis player to light the Olympic cauldron during the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo Games here at the Japan National Stadium.
Osaka had the distinct honour of serving as the final torchbearer of the Olympic Torch Relay, lighting the cauldron inside the Olympic Stadium for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 in 2021. Osaka, 23, is a four-time major champion in tennis who is making her Olympic debut. She won her fourth Grand Slam title at the Australian Open earlier in 2021.
"@naomiosaka is your final Olympic flame torchbearer and has lit the #Olympics cauldron," #Tokyo2020 tweeted
Her lighting of the cauldron served as one of the final moments of a moving Opening Ceremony, leading the way with hope for the world and furthering the "stronger together" message that has been embraced by these Games.
The lighting of the cauldron marked the final step of a long journey for the Olympic Torch through Japan, at the end of a relay that began on March 25, 2021. The torch is designed in the shape of cherry blossom, a symbol close to the hearts of the Japanese people.
The torch entered into Olympic stadium, carried by Olympic champions Nomura Tadahiro (judo) and Yoshida Saori (wrestling) and was handed off to Japanese baseball legends Hideki Matsui, Shigeo Nagashima, and Oh Sadaharu.
It was then a pair of healthcare first responders who took the flame, passing it along to Tsuchida Wakako, a seven-time Paralympian and three-time gold medallist. Tsuchida handed the torch on to a group of Japanese youth before it was then given to Osaka herself.