Naomi Osaka’s first round match at the Olympics has been pulled from tomorrow’s order of play, fuelling speculation she could be part of today’s Tokyo 2020 opening ceremony.
The second seed is one of Japan’s best hopes of winning a home gold, and there is extra attention on her given that she is playing her first match since withdrawing from the French Open to concentrate on her mental health
Osaka has been drawn to face China’s Zheng Saisai in the opening round of the women’s singles, where world number one Ashleigh Barty is likely to be her main challenger. The tie was meant to be the first match on Centre Court at the Ariake Tennis Park, but Iga Swiatek will now kick-off the tennis programme against Mona Barthel. The first round matches are being played across the weekend.
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Details for the opening ceremony have been kept extremely secret, but just like at every Games, there are plenty of rumours around who could light the Olympic cauldron. Osaka is thought to be a leading contender, as is baseball player Shohei Ohtani, who plays for the Los Angeles Angels.
It is reported that Tokyo 2020 asked for the schedule to be changed, rather than Osaka herself, although no official reason has been given.
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