Naomi Osaka lights cauldron to open 2020 Tokyo Olympics

Naomi Osaka, four time Grand Slam tennis champion, had the honor of lighting the Olympic cauldron at the Opening Ceremony of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics on Friday.

The torch always finishes its long journey in the Opening Ceremony venue, being carried around the stadium by notable athletes or other figures from the host country. Those athletes are a closely guarded secret until the ceremony actually happens, so Osaka’s presence was a huge surprise.

There might not have been anyone better to have the great honor of lighting the cauldron. Osaka is one of tennis’ brightest stars, and at just 23 years old, she’s still on the rise. Born in Japan and raised in the United States, Osaka is playing tennis for Japan in the Olympics, and she’s a gold medal favorite. 

Best of Tokyo Opening Ceremony slideshow embed

Best of Tokyo Opening Ceremony slideshow embed

Who else carried the torch?

The torch entered the stadium being carried by Olympic champions Nomura Tadahiro (judo) and Yoshida Saori (wrestling). From there, it was time for the Japan’s long history and love of baseball to take center stage. Hideki Matsui, former New York Yankees player who spent nine years playing for the Yomiuri Giants before moving playing in the U.S., accompanied Japanese legends Shigeo Nagashima and Oh Sadaharu, who holds the world lifetime home run record with 868 over his 21 year career. 

The baseball players handed the torch off to two first responders, who gave it to Tsuchida Wakako, a women’s wheelchair marathoner who was the first Japanese athlete to win medals at the Summer and Winter Paralympics. 

A group of middle school athletes then carried the torch to Osaka, who lit the cauldron that will keep burning until the closing ceremony in two weeks. 

More Olympics coverage from Yahoo Sports:

Aol.com