Two-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka has shown her support for the decision to postpone the Tokyo Olympics, saying "we’ll all be ready to stronger ever in 2021."
Osaka was the poster girl for the Games and the central character in the video to launch Tokyo 2020’s official motto for the Games, launched last month.
The coronavirus has since spread across the world, however, leading to last week's decision by the Japanese government and International Olympic Committee to postpone the Games.
“Everyone knows how much the Olympics means to me and how proud I will be to participate in my home country,” Osaka, the world No 10, wrote on Twitter.
“Of course, I am disappointed that it won’t happen this year but we’ll all be ready to stronger ever in 2021! I support Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s brave decision and the IOC 100%.
“Sport will eventually unite us again and be there for us always, but that time not now,” she added.
“This is the time for people from all countries, backgrounds and races to rally together to save as many lives as we can. To me, that is the Olympic spirit.
"To the people of Japan: stay strong, hang in there, and let's the show the world our beautiful country when time is right in 2021.”
Osaka, 22 the first Asian to be ranked world No 1 in tennis, concluded with a message for her 500,000 plus Twitter followers.
“Stay safe everyone, take care of each other, be kind and we will make it through. Love, Naomi.”
Osaka won back-to-back Grand Slams when winning the 2018 US Open title and the 2019 Australian Open and had targeted Olympic gold in Tokyo, originally slated to start July 24.
Born in Japan to a Haitian father and Japanese mother, Osaka was raised in the United States and was chosen to lead Tokyo 2020’s "United by Emotion" motto as the face of a changing country.
Japan, which has traditionally seen itself as a racially homogeneous country, is becoming more ethnically diverse and Osaka has been at the forefront of a new wave of sporting heroes set to represent the host nation at the Olympics.
Coronavirus infections in Japan have climbed to more than 1,400, with 47 deaths at the time of writing.