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‘We’ll keep rising’: Naomi Osaka pledges to donate tournament earnings to support Haitian relief fund


by Sarah Finnan
16th Aug 2021

Naomi Osaka / Instagram

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Naomi Osaka has pledged to donate the entirety of her Western & Southern Open earnings to support ongoing earthquake relief efforts in Haiti.

One of the tennis world’s most promising stars, Naomi Osaka has already wowed onlookers with her prowess on the court. Looking beyond her athletic abilities for a moment though, there are plenty of other reasons to admire the up-and-coming sportswoman – her bravery when speaking of her mental health for one, her generosity to those in need, for another. 

Proving she’s a very worthy role model on more than one occasion, Osaka made headlines earlier this year when she withdrew from the French Open. Forced to do so amid controversy surrounding her decision to forgo press during the event, Osaka faced plenty of criticism for the move but she remained steadfast in her choices. 

Sharing a poignant statement on Twitter at the time, she announced that she’d be taking some time away from the court in order to prioritise her mental health, also admitting that she’s suffered “long bouts of depression” since competing in the US Open back in 2018. 

Despite widespread disapproval from the naysayers, the negativity was ultimately drowned out and by those praising Osaka. Commending her for being so open about her own personal struggles, more recent headlines have credited her with helping to pave the way for fellow athletes such as Simone Biles to follow suit. 

Having made her return to competition at the Tokyo Olympics last month, the athlete is now competing at the Western & Southern Open which is being held in Cincinnati this week. However, with news of the recent 7.2 magnitude earthquake over in Haiti still fresh in her mind, the athlete had much more than just pre-game jitters to contend with – especially considering her own Japanese and Haitian heritage. 

But showing that she’s a class act once again, Osaka saw a chance to do some good and pledged to donate all of her earnings from the tournament to support the earthquake relief fund, tweeting to say that she knows “our ancestors [sic] blood is strong and we’ll keep rising”. “Really hurts to see all the devastation that’s going on in Haiti, and I feel like we really can’t catch a break. I’m about to play a tournament this week and I’ll give all the prize money to relief efforts for Haiti.” 

Still only building itself back up after another earthquake that rocked the nation 11 years ago, much of the infrastructure remains in bad shape; a recovery that has been hindered by the country’s vulnerability to such natural disasters. Reports on the current situation over in Haiti continue to roll in but it’s believed that the death toll is now just shy of 1,300 people with at least 2,800 people injured and thousands more displaced from their damaged or destroyed homes. 

Hospitals have been overwhelmed with an influx of locals all in need of care and officials have had to bring in additional doctors to the most tragedy-hit areas in order to deal with the situation. Things are only expected to worsen in the coming days though as the country prepares for the incoming tropical depression Grace which will cause heavy rain and flooding and could potentially disrupt rescue/aid efforts. There are a number of different organisations which have been working to offer support in the wake of the earthquake, including Irish global humanitarian organisation GOAL.

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