I’m in front of the stadium ready for the opening ceremony to start. What’s the vibe? Let the games begin!
00:00 Start 00:52 Japanese fan, why did you come here? 02:28 Malaysia fans! 04:00 Japanese fans in Costume 06:15 Press who couldn’t get in 08:47 India 🇮🇳 fans! 10:32 Olympic / Press Stadium Bus entrance 12:32 Spectators outside waiting 16:22 my friend Mike! 📷 21:50 Return to Olympic Rings area 24:50 Best Location to see Stadium 30:40 Athletes or Performers? 41:30 Colombia fans! 1:01:10 Japanese Citizen reacts to no spectators 1:02:50 FIREWORKS 🎆 1:09:27 Watching Inside with iPad 1:36:38 Philippines fans! 1:43:53 Japanese Citizen Reaction 🇯🇵
It wasn't what some media members were looking for — there was grumbling about its brevity — but Naomi Osaka did talk to media after her first-round Olympic tournament win on Sunday.
In her first match since the first round of the French Open eight weeks ago, when she sent sports media and the game's gatekeepers into a tailspin by choosing her own mental health over news conferences, Osaka left centre court at the Ariake Tennis Park with a workwoman-like 6-1, 6-4 win over China's Seisei Zheng.
She spoke on court with the three major broadcast rights holders for the Games, including NBC, and then reported to the mixed zone, where interviews happen at many international events. Osaka seemed uneasy but certainly pleasant as she fielded questions in English and Japanese, though she answered only in English. (Osaka said in a newly released Netflix documentary that she speaks Japanese with her mother and sister, but is too nervous about mistakes with her grammatical structure to use it much in public.)
It was a welcome surprise that she chatted with media at all — word on Saturday was that it was unclear whether she would — and hopefully a sign that Osaka is in a better place mentally than she was in Paris, when she declared on the eve of the tournament that she wasn't going to do post-match conferences and then pulled out after winning in Round 1 when all four Grand Slams threatened to sanction her if she didn't abide by their rules.
"I don't feel that weird about it. It might feel weird to you guys but ... I'm happy that, I guess, you guys are asking me questions," Osaka told one of the small clusters of reporters. "But more than anything I was just focused on playing tennis and I feel a little bit out of my body right now."
Wearing braids threaded with red and white, the colors of Japan's flag, Osaka faced Zheng in the oppressive midday Tokyo heat. Their match began just after 1 p.m. with the temperature at 90 degrees but a "feels like" of 96 degrees due to the humidity. And since it was the middle of the day, there was no shade on the court to speak of, save for the large umbrellas players sat under during their brief crossover breaks.
Naomi Osaka burst into tears and exited the podium following a question on Monday during her first WTA press conference since withdrawing from the French Open to focus on her mental health.
“You’re not crazy about dealing with us, especially in this format, yet you have a lot of outside interests that are served by having a media platform,” Cincinnati Enquirer columnist Paul Daugherty said. “I guess my question is, how do you balance the two and also do you have anything you’d like to share with us about what you did say to Simone Biles?”
Osaka’s agent Stuart Duguid lambasted Daugherty in a statement, saying “the tone of the question was all wrong and (the reporter’s) sole purpose was to intimidate,” according to tennis reporter Ben Rothenberg.
Daugherty’s question was in a tone similar to others asked during the news conference at the Western & Southern Open in Ohio.
News conferences have been a hot-button issue for Osaka, who feels there are better ways for her to communicate with the public than sitting on the podium before or right after matches.
Osaka, the No. 2 women’s tennis player in the WTA rankings, withdrew from the French Open after being fined $15,000 for skipping news conferences, which she said were not conducive to her mental health. In June she revealed she has been suffering “long bouts of depression” since winning her first major tournament, the U.S. Open, in 2018.