Osaka holds dual citizenship but, under Japanese requirements, must choose one nationality over the other before turning 22, which will happen later this month.
Women's world No. 3 Naomi Osaka has begun the process to select Japanese citizenship in order to compete for Japan at next year's Tokyo Olympics, a source familiar with the matter confirmed Thursday. The 21-year-old tennis player was born in Japan, but she was raised in the United States.
According to reports, Osaka brushed off comments made by Japanese comedians two weeks ago, who said she was "too sunburned" and "needed some bleach".
Osaka now lives and trains in the United States.
Osaka added she desires to goal for the gold though she can be nervous as expectations will likely be excessive.
She told Japanese public broadcaster NHK that it gives her "a special feeling to try to go to the Olympics to represent Japan".
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Osaka won the China Open Sunday and is now ranked No. 3 in the world, playing for Japan both in the Fed Cup and on the WTA Tour.
She won the Pan Pacific Open in Osaka, Japan in mid-September, and beat world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty in the final of the China Open last week.
In July, in an interview with the International Tennis Federation, she said: "Winning gold in Tokyo is something that I have dreamed about".
Since then, she notched a second Grand Slam title after defeating Petra Kvitova in the 2019 Australian Open, which she called one of the "happiest moments" of her life.
Osaka added she wants to aim for the gold although she is also anxious as expectations will be high.