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Naomi Osaka pulls out of her Western & Southern Open semi-final in New York

Naomi Osaka has announced she is withdrawing from the Western & Southern Open in New York as athletes and teams in the US protest after black man Jacob Blake was shot by police.

The world No 10 said in a statement she had been scheduled to play in the tournament’s semi-final on Thursday.

Civil unrest has erupted once again in America, after Blake was shot seven times in the back by officer Rusten Sheskey, in front of his own children. 

Blake is currently recovering in hospital, but his lawyers have suggested it will take ‘a miracle’ for him to walk again.

Explaining her decision, Osaka wrote: ‘However, before I am an athlete, I am a black woman. And as a black woman I feel as though there are much more important matters at hand that need immediate attention, rather than watching me play tennis.

‘I don’t expect anything drastic to happen with me not playing, but if I can get a conversation started in a majority white sport I consider that a step in the right direction.

‘Watching the continued genocide of Black people at the hands of police is honestly making me sick to my stomach.’ 

Osaka’s decision comes as a list of major US sporting events were called off across the States, with athletes protesting against racial injustice following the police shooting in Wisconsin.

The Milwaukee Bucks made their point by boycotting their NBA play-off clash with Orlando Magic.

Both the LA Lakers and the LA Clippers have now voted to end the season with immediate effect.  

Alongside the Bucks, two other NBA play-off games, three Major League Baseball matches, three WNBA fixtures and five Major League Soccer games were postponed after player-led actions in response to the shooting of African-American Blake and the civil unrest that has followed.

Those MLS matches included that of David Beckham’s Inter Miami side, with their Atlanta United clash not going ahead. 

Two people were shot dead during the unrrest, while federal officers and the national guard have been deployed to Kenosha. 

Osaka was playing in the tournament as a warm-up for the US Open, which she won in 2018.

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