By HAYLEY FITZPATRICK, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — Naomi Osaka is one of the many athletes stepping away from their respective sports in an act of protest after the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Aug. 23, 2020.
The professional tennis player, 22, announced she will not compete in Thursday’s scheduled semifinal match at the 2020 Western & Southern Open.
“Hello, as many of you are aware I was scheduled to play my semifinals match tomorrow,” Osaka wrote in a note posted Wednesday night. “However, before I am an athlete, I am a black woman. And as a black woman I feel as though there are much more important matters at hand that need immediate attention, rather than watching me play tennis.”
“I don’t expect anything drastic to happen with me not playing, but if I can get a conversation started in a majority white sport I consider that a step in the right direction,” she continued. “Watching the continued genocide of Black people at the hand of the police is honestly making me sick to my stomach.”
— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@naomiosaka) August 27, 2020
Blake, 29, was shot seven times by police in front of his children on Sunday afternoon, according to one of the family’s attorneys, Patrick Salvi Jr., Blake’s father, told ABC News that his son is now paralyzed from the waist down.
Osaka stated in her note that she is “exhausted of having a new hashtag pop up every few days and I’m extremely tired of having this same conversation over and over again.”
“When will it ever be enough?” she asked, ending her statement with Jacob Blake’s name, Breonna Taylor’s name, Elijah McClain’s name and George Floyd’s name.
Breonna Taylor was fatally shot in Louisville, Kentucky, on March 13 by police who were conducting a “no-knock” search warrant. She was 26 years old. Elijah McClain died at the age of 23 on Aug. 24, 2019, when he was walking home and stopped by Aurora, Colorado, police, was detained and put in a chokehold and administered ketamine by paramedics.
George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, was killed while in police custody on Memorial Day after former police officer Derek Chauvin put his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.
Following Osaka’s announcement, the USTA released a statement that, along with the ATP Tour and WTA, it will “recognize this moment in time” by pausing the Western & Southern Open tournament on Thursday.
“As a sport, tennis is collectively taking a stance against racial inequality and social injustice that once again has been thrust to the forefront in the United States,” the statement read.
Games in the NBA, WNBA, MLS and MLB have been postponed as well, after players decided to protest in the wake of the shooting of Jacob Blake.
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