Osaka commits to Olympics but admits virus is a big concern

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Naomi Osaka of Japan walks on court in front of virtual fans before her Womens Singles final match against Victoria Azarenka of Belarus on Day Thirteen of the 2020 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 12, 2020 in the Queens borough of New York City.
Naomi Osaka of Japan walks on court in front of virtual fans before her Womens Singles final match against Victoria Azarenka of Belarus on Day Thirteen of the 2020 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 12, 2020 in the Queens borough of New York City.
Al Bello

Japanese sensation Naomi Osaka on Sunday said she was committed to competing in the delayed Tokyo Olympics, but believed public approval was crucial for the Games to go ahead this year.

Organisers are still adamant the Olympics can be held safely even if the coronavirus is not under control by the time the flame is lit on July 23.

The three-time Grand Slam champion admitted being worried by a recent poll that found 80 percent of the Japanese public were opposed to Tokyo hosting the event this year because of the pandemic.

Large parts of Japan are currently under a state of emergency to tackle a spike in coronavirus cases, with borders closed to almost all foreigners.

"My concern would be the general safety of everyone else because you're opening the country," Osaka said.

"Everyone is flying in from different places. I would just want the public to feel safe."

The 23-year-old has been the poster girl of the 2020 Olympics and still hopes to represent Japan at her home Games.

"I will stay in my room for two weeks to play the Olympics," said Osaka, who lives in Florida.

"I missed out on the last one. Playing in Tokyo would be very special to me."

World number nine Petra Kvitova, who won bronze in the women's singles in Rio, described the Olympics as a "fifth Grand Slam".

"I hope that the Olympics really will happen, for sure," she told reporters on Sunday.

"For me, the Olympic Games is very important."

Second-ranked Simona Halep, who competed at the 2012 London Games but skipped Rio in 2016 due to concerns over the Zika virus, said vying for her first Olympic medal was her top priority this year.

"The main goal is a medal at the Olympics, to go there and be able to compete at the highest level," she told the WTA website.

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