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Sport Sponsorship masterstroke behind Osaka withdrawal

04:30  04 june  2021
04:30  04 june  2021 Source:   wwos.nine.com.au

Strongarm reaction to Osaka's major boycott

  Strongarm reaction to Osaka's major boycott The French Tennis Federation has come up with a tough reaction to Naomi Osaka's planned press boycott.That's according to Australian tennis great Todd Woodbridge, with Osaka facing the prospect of being the first star knocked out of the French Open if she doesn't aim up.

Naomi Osaka withdrew from the 2021 French Open amid mental health concerns. DPPI/Rob Prange / IPA/Sipa USA. Sports apparel giant Nike, which signed a sponsorship deal with Osaka in 2019, commended the 23-year-old tennis star for opening up about her struggles with depression after she dropped out of the French Open. “Our thoughts are with Naomi. We support her and recognize her courage in sharing her own mental health experience,” Nike said in a statement.

Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from the French Open © Susan Mullane / USA Today Sports via Reuters. World number two Osaka had already caused shockwaves by announcing before the tournament that she would not be observing her media duties, carrying out her threat as she progressed to the second round before organizers of all four Grand Slams united to produce a long statement warning that she could be thrown out of the showpiece and future competitions while issuing a



a close up of Naomi Osaka holding a racket: Naomi Osaka hits a backhand in the first round at Roland Garros. © Getty Naomi Osaka hits a backhand in the first round at Roland Garros.

A few years ago, a star athlete dropping out of a major tennis tournament over mental health issues might have been seen as a sign of weakness.

Today, at least for Naomi Osaka's corporate sponsors, it is being hailed as refreshingly honest.

That would explain why so many of them have stuck by Osaka after the four-time Grand Slam champion announced Monday that she was withdrawing from the French Open because she didn’t want to appear for the requisite news conferences that caused her “huge waves of anxiety.”

Osaka, who also acknowledged suffering “long bouts of depression,” received criticism by some who say the media events are just “ part of the job. " But Nike, Sweetgreen and other sponsors put out statements in support of the 23-year-old star after she revealed her struggles.

Osaka's bombshell Roland Garros withdrawal

  Osaka's bombshell Roland Garros withdrawal Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from Roland Garros the day after being fined for skipping media duties, revealing depression.Osaka won her round one match against Patricia Tig on the opening day of the French Open but went through with her announced press boycott. It earned her a $US15,000 fine and the threat of default from the Grand Slam event.

Nike, other sponsors back Naomi Osaka after French Open withdrawal . Naomi Osaka received a message of support from a tennis legend after her withdrawal from the French Open. Martina Navratilova, the 18-time singles Grand Slam winner, said she was “so sad about Naomi Osaka ” after the 23-year-old made the stunning announcement Monday that she was withdrawing from the tournament amid controversy over her media boycott, citing depression and social anxiety.

Tennis star Naomi Osaka , who abruptly withdrew from the French Open amid a battle with depression and anxiety, stepped out Wednesday for a trip to a Los Angeles supermarket. Naomi Osaka announced her withdrawal from the French Open on May 31. AFP via Getty Images.

The only place tennis fans can watch every Roland-Garros match is on Stan Sport. Start a seven day free trial of the Stan Sport add-on now!

“Our thoughts are with Naomi," Nike said in a statement. "We support her and recognise her courage in sharing her own mental health experience.” Sweetgreen tweeted that its partnership with Osaka “is rooted in wellness in all its forms.” And Mastercard tweeted: “Naomi Osaka’s decision reminds us all how important it is to prioritise personal health and well-being.”

Allen Adamson, co-founder of marketing consultancy Metaforce, said that Osaka’s disclosure has made her a more authentic spokesperson — and more valuable to corporate sponsors.

“Every athlete gets a sports sponsorship because they win games or perform well," he said. “But the best ones become true brand ambassadors when they have a broader persona. The best brand ambassadors are real people. (Osaka) is talking about an issue that is relevant to many people. Mental health is a bigger issue than winning or losing tennis.”

'Disappointment and anger': Tennis reacts to Osaka

  'Disappointment and anger': Tennis reacts to Osaka Naomi Osaka's decision to withdraw from Roland Garros has prompted an outpouring of reaction across tennis.Osaka quit the French Open after boycotting her first round press conference, as planned; which saw her fined and threatened with disqualification in a joint statement by the four Grand Slams. Osaka, a four-time Grand Slam winner and the world No.2, revealed that she had suffered major depression and anxiety issues in the past few years, partly triggered by media appearances.

Lewis Hamilton sent a message of support on Twitter to Naomi Osaka after the Japanese tennis player withdrew from the French Open this week. Hamilton was talking before this weekend's Azerbaijan Grand Prix at the end of a week in which the sporting headlines have been dominated by Osaka 's withdrawal from the French Open. The Japanese world number two initially refused to do media commitments at the tournament, to "protect her mental health".

Tennis star Naomi Osaka received unequivocal support from her corporate sponsors , including Nike Inc. (NYSE: NKE) and Mastercard (NYSE: MA) following her decision to withdraw from the French Open after refusing to participate in the tournament’s press conferences. What Happened: Last Wednesday, Osaka , the world’s number two ranked tennis player, announced on Twitter (NYSE: TWTR) that she would not participate in the press conferences, citing the mental health strain of answering reporters’ questions.

Reilly Opelka, a 23-year-old American tennis player seeded 32nd at the French Open who plays his third-round match Friday, told The Associated Press he's glad Osaka “is taking time to get better."

“She’s one of the best players in the world — she’s very influential," Opelka said. "The sport needs her. She’s an icon. It’s bad for the sport to have one of the main attractions not around.”


a close up of Naomi Osaka with a racket: Naomi Osaka withdrew from Roland Garros © Getty Naomi Osaka withdrew from Roland Garros

Osaka, who was born in Japan to a Japanese mother and Haitian father, moved to the United States with her family when she was 3, and now lives in Los Angeles.

She has taken a leading role in protesting the deaths last year of George Floyd and other Black people who died at the hands of the police, wearing a mask with a different victim's name on each match day at the 2020 U.S. Open. She was named the 2020 AP Female Athlete of the Year.

According to Forbes, Osaka is the world’s highest-paid woman athlete, earning $48 million in 2020 from blue-chip sponsors such as Tag Heuer, AirBnB, and Louis Vuitton in addition to Mastercard and Nike.

Legend fears for Osaka's career after French exit

  Legend fears for Osaka's career after French exit The leaders of the four Grand Slams have reacted to tennis star Naomi Osaka's stunning Roland Garros exit.The pledge came in a statement signed by the same four tennis administrators who threatened the possibility of disqualification or suspension for Osaka on Sunday if she continued to skip news conferences.

Behind the scenes, however, the 2020 WTA Player of the Year was on shaky ground. Weeks after splitting with her management, Kenin was holed up in a hotel room for two weeks as players fulfilled Australia's strict COVID-19 quarantine protocols in the leadup to the Grand Slam. Osaka 's press boycott, followed by her withdrawal from the French Open on Monday, has put the media under the microscope and triggered criticism of the Grand Slams that threaten fines of up to US,000 if players skip compulsory press conferences.

Other sponsors issued statements in support of Osaka , who was born in Japan and grew up in the United States. “Naomi Osaka ’s decision reminds us all how important it is to prioritize personal health and well-being,” Mastercard (MA) said in a statement. “We support her and admire her courage to address important Sweetgreen, a US restaurant chain of which Osaka is a brand ambassador and investor, said: “Our partnership with Naomi is rooted in wellness in all its forms. We support her in furthering the conversation around mental health and are proud to have her as part of the sweetgreen team.”

Nike has stood by sports stars after other controversies, including Tiger Woods after his 2009 sex scandal and former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick after he knelt during games to protest police brutality against Black people. But it recently dropped Brazilian soccer star Neymar after he refused to cooperate with an internal investigation into sexual assault allegations from a Nike staffer.


  Sponsorship masterstroke behind Osaka withdrawal © Getty

Osaka's disclosure comes as celebrities and other public figures openly address their own issues with depression and anxiety. Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle, shared their experiences in a televised interview with Oprah Winfrey and have since teamed with her to create a mental health focused series called “The Me You Can't See," in which Prince Harry talks about working through anxiety and grief.

Osaka also joins a growing list of top-tier athletes speaking out about mental health. Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, NBA players Kevin Love and DeMar DeRozan, and the WNBA’s A’ja Wilson have all spoken very publicly about their bouts with depression, sharing both the successes and setbacks.

Naomi Osaka WON'T be given special treatment at Wimbledon this month

  Naomi Osaka WON'T be given special treatment at Wimbledon this month Osaka has since returned to her home in Los Angeles as she begins her break from tennis, which has led to speculation whether or not she will compete at Wimbledon later this month.The Japanese star pulled out at Roland Garros after refusing to attend mandatory post-match press conferences and revealing she had been suffering from bouts of depression for three years.

The four Grand Slam tournaments reacted to Osaka’s withdrawal by pledging to do more to address players’ mental health issues. The episode also could serve as a tipping point for the professional tennis tours — and leagues in other sports — to safeguard athletes’ mental, and not just physical, health, said Windy Dees, professor of sport administration at the University of Miami.

“It’s absolutely a growth opportunity for the (Women's Tennis Association) and all leagues, there’s a lot of work to be done,” Dees said.

Marketing consultant Adamson believes Osaka’s decision to come forward will encourage many more athletes to divulge their own mental health battles. He noted that if Osaka had revealed her bouts with depression 10 years ago, her corporate sponsors likely would have stayed on the sidelines because the issue had been taboo. But, he noted, the pandemic has raised awareness around mental illness.

From August 2020 to February, the percentage of adults with recent symptoms of an anxiety or a depressive disorder increased from 36.4% to 41.5%, according to a survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Census Bureau.

The survey also found the percentage of those reporting they didn’t get the help they needed increased from 9.2% to 11.7%. Increases were largest among adults aged 18–29 years and those with less than a high school education.

Ken Duckworth, chief medical officer for the National Alliance On Mental Illness, said Osaka’s decision to go public is a positive development for all people who feel isolated.

“We are moving from mental health and mental illness as a ‘they” thing to a ‘we’ thing,” he said. “These are ordinary common human problems. And I firmly believe that isolation and shame directly contributes to people not getting help. I look at a great athlete, an exceptional athlete, as one potential role model.”

Hamilton calls French Open organisers 'not cool' for fining Osaka .
A joint letter from Grand Slam organisers then threatened the world number two with a ban before Osaka withdrew from the Paris major, revealing she has been battling with depression.Osaka, 23, was ordered to pay £10,500 by Roland Garros chiefs after she refused to speak to the media following her first-round win.

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