Washington: Former world No. 1 Naomi Osaka of Japan said on Saturday she's disappointed the Tokyo Olympics won't be held this year in her home country, but she supports the difficult decision the organisers had to make in postponing the Games due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The two-time Grand Slam champion will represent Japan at the Tokyo Olympics and unveiled the Games' motto "United by Emotion" earlier this year.
In a message she wrote on social media on Saturday, Osaka said she supports the "brave decision" and that it was a time for everyone around the world to rally together in true "Olympic spirit" to save lives.
"Everyone knows how much the Olympics means to me and how proud I will be to participate the Games in my home country. Of course I am disappointed that it won't happen this year, but we'll all be ready to go stronger than ever in 2021," Osaka wrote.
"Sport will eventually unite us again and be there for us always, but that time is not now. This is the time for people from all countries, backgrounds and races to rally together to save as many lives as we can. To me, that is the Olympic spirit," she continued.
The International Olympic Committee postponed the Olympics after athletes worldwide expressed concern about trying to stage the spectacle amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Osaka, the 2018 US Open and 2019 Australian Open champion, said the Japanese people need to stay strong.
"To the people of Japan: stay strong, hang in there, and let's show the world our beautiful country when the time is right in 2021. Stay safe everyone, take care of each other, be kind and we will make it through," she said.