Naomi Osaka withdraws from Western & Southern Open, play suspended in protest

Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from the Western & Southern Open in protest over the shooting of Jacob Blake.

Several major US sporting events were called off as athletes protested against racial injustice following the police shooting of Blake in Wisconsin last week.

Three NBA play-off games, three Major League Baseball matches, three WNBA fixtures and five Major League Soccer games were postponed after player-led actions in response to the shooting of African-American Blake and the civil unrest that has followed.

Osaka had been due to play in the semi-final of the tournament – a warm-up event for the US Open, which begins on Monday – but has withdrawn, and all of Thursday’s scheduled games in the competition have also been postponed.

Osaka, the US Open champion in 2018, wrote: “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.

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“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.

“Watching the continued genocide of Black people at the hands of people is honestly making me sick to my stomach.”

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