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Let the Games begin: Osaka lights cauldron at Olympic Stadium

Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka lighting the Olympic flame at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on July 23, 2021. Photo: @Tokyo2020/Twitter

Tokyo, July 23 (MNN) Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka on Friday lighted the cauldron inside the Olympic Stadium here for the formal opening of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

She was also the final torchbearer as part of the Olympic Torch Relay at the Opening Ceremony.

Osaka, 23, is a four-time major champion in tennis who is making her Olympic debut. She won her fourth Grand Slam title at the Australian Open earlier in 2021.

The lighting of the cauldron marked the final step of a long journey for the Olympic Torch Relay, which began on March 25, 2021. The torch is designed in the shape of a cherry blossom, a symbol close to the hearts of the Japanese people.

The torch was carried into the Olympic stadium by Olympic champions Nomura Tadahiro (judo) and Yoshida Saori (wrestling) and was handed to Japanese baseball legends Hideki Matsui, Shigeo Nagashima, and Oh Sadaharu.

A pair of first responders took over the flame, passing it along to Tsuchida Wakako, a seven-time Paralympian. Tsuchida handed the torch to a group of Japanese youths before passing the torch to Osaka.

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