Naomi Osaka And A Tale Of Two Countries - UBITENNIS
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Naomi Osaka And A Tale Of Two Countries

The US Open champion has to renounce her U.S. citizenship because of Japanese law. But it’s not that easy



Naomi Osaka (@usopen on Twitter)

There is little doubt that the star of women’s tennis, and probably of the whole of tennis, after the pandemic break has been Naomi Osaka. Despite the thigh injury that has kept her out of Roland Garros and a ranking that sees her only at no. 3, her win at the US Open coupled with the role she has played in the unprecedented uprising that led the Western&Southern Open to postpone the semifinal day by 24 hours have risen Naomi’s profile to transcend the tennis niche and land in the star system mainstream.


However, this last triumphant summer, concluded with no less than a cover on Vogue, was just the icing on the cake for whom had been listed by Forbes as the highest paid female athlete in the world in 2019 (37.4 million dollars between prize money and endorsements) and did not hesitate to fly to Minneapolis to witness first hand the racial disorders following the killing of George Floyd.

This 2020 was supposed to be a very important year for Naomi, as she was preparing to compete at the Tokyo Olympics in her home country of Japan. Despite having spent most of her life living in the United States, she has always competed under the Japanese flag and had been selected as one of the testimonials for this Olympiad.

In order to honor the support she has received throughout her junior years from the Japanese Tennis Federation and as an act of coherence for the choice she made to represent Japan in international competitions, Naomi Osaka announced in 2019 that she would be renouncing U.S. citizenship in compliance with Japanese law that does not formally recognize dual citizenship. In fact, she had benefited from an exemption granted to so-called ‘hafu’, the Japanese term used to define mixed-raced children, that is those with parents of different nationalities. Osaka’s mother, Tamaki,  is Japanese, while her father, Leonard François, is a naturalized U.S. citizen originally from Haiti. According to Japanese law, ‘hafu’ children would be able to maintain dual passports until their 22nd birthday, but then they would have to choose one or the other.

Osaka turned 22 on 16th October 2019, and she has repeatedly confirmed she intends to maintain her Japanese passport only.

Naomi Osaka at the 2020 US Open

However, this presents a logistical conundrum to be solved. First of all, Naomi has always lived in the United States, first in Florida where her mother still lives, and now in the Los Angeles area where she has moved in with her boyfriend, rapper YBN Cordae. The move to Southern California has been justified by her desire to undertake several business ventures that would be better attended to while in Los Angeles. But were she to give up her U.S. citizenship, she will lose the right to live and work in the United States and she would need to secure again that right under her Japanese passport.

For an athlete of her stature that would not be difficult, though: there is a visa, called O-1, that is reserved for “the individual who possesses extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or who has a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and has been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements”. This visa can lead quite easily to a “Green Card”, which is the status of Lawful Permanent Resident in the United States, which would give her most of the privileges she would enjoy as a citizen. But the application could take months, if not longer, and could not be started before she renounces her U.S. citizenship. What to do in the meantime?

But this is not the biggest problem she faces. In fact, renouncing U.S. citizenship could trigger an ‘exit tax’, a tax levied by the U.S. Government to discourage high net-worth individuals from leaving the United States and not having to pay taxes to “Uncle Sam” every year. The U.S. is one of the only two countries in the world that taxes its citizens on their worldwide income no matter where they live. The exit tax can be triggered by various situations, but in general it is not due by individuals whose net-worth is lower than 2 million dollars and who on average pay less than 171,000 dollars a year in taxes to the United States. The calculation of the net-worth includes all assets owned by the individual in question, as well as an actualized value of possible future revenue streams (such as a possible future pension). Considering that Naomi Osaka earned an estimated 37.4 million dollars in 2019 alone, it is safe to assume that she would need to pay a substantial amount to forego her U.S. passport.

Naomi Osaka (@HsrSports on Twitter)

Osaka would be in the paradoxical situation of having to sign a hefty check to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service to just continue doing what she is doing now, that is live in California and continue to pay California taxes.

The ‘exit tax’ can be minimized through careful structuring of personal assets through the use of gifts and donations to parents and relatives, which under the fledgling Trump administration have enjoyed record-high exemptions from estate taxes, but it would be very difficult to avoid it completely. Nonetheless, asset restructuring is bound to take time, and this may explain why Osaka has not yet renounced her American citizenship, despite the deadline of her 22nd birthday imposed by the Japanese law passed over a year ago.

All individuals who decide to expatriate and forfeit the U.S. citizenship are published quarterly on the Federal Register, the official journal of the federal government of the United States. As of the last publication of these lists, which occurred on 29th October 2020, her name has not yet been included among those who have abandoned the blue passport with the bald eagle.

According to Canadian law firm Moodys LLP that specializes in U.S. citizenship renunciation, the average time for the procedure varies between 5 and 10 months, although some consular offices are heavily back-logged with a wait time of up to 20 months. An interview with a U.S. official at a U.S. Consulate is needed in order to complete the process, as it has to be established whether the individual is involved in illicit activities and wants to escape prosecution or intends to renounce to avoid paying taxes to the U.S. while living in another country. In that case the Attorney General has the power to prevent the individual from entering the United States forever.

But what to do in the meantime while technically in violation of Japanese law? Many Japanese people in the same situation choose to do absolutely nothing. Figures from the Justice Ministry reported by the New York Times suggest there may be almost 900,000 Japanese citizens holding some other passport, and “the government has never revoked Japanese citizenship from anyone who, like Osaka, was granted citizenship at birth”. In most cases, these people keep living their lives avoiding the topic of nationality disclosing their situation to as few people as possible with the tacit acceptance from the government in some kind of international “don’t ask, don’t tell”.

But given Osaka’s international high profile, it would be difficult for her to fly under the radar and adopt this strategy.

During the last Western&Southern Open, Naomi was asked a question about the forthcoming presidential elections in the United States, with perspective vice-president Kamala Harris being born to an Asian mother and a father from the Caribbean, just like her. She replied: “I would say it’s a bit weird, the stance I have to take. I’m not supposed to talk about politics, to be honest, because technically I’m not American, per se. I kind of have always been advised not to say anything. I don’t know. It’s a bit weird when you’re living in the country and you’re seeing the things that are going on, and you kind of want to say what you think but you’re not supposed to”.

Considering her inclination to take a public stand against what she believes is wrong, Osaka could use her immense following to go head-to-head with the Japanese government and force a change in direction that would officially allow some kind of dual citizenship for Japanese people. But that would be a challenge on a whole different level than what she has experienced so far, both on-court and off-court.

Of course, the easiest solution would be to actually leave the United States, move away from her Beverly Hills mansion and relocate to some tax haven where, after paying her dues to the U.S. taxman, she would enjoy millions of dollars more every year than she would with her current set-up. For example, she could move to the Bahamas, a mere 40-minute flight to her mom’s house in West Palm Beach, Florida, travel to the United States when required by her business engagements, and forget about “green card” and taxes.

But Naomi doesn’t look like the type to take the path of least resistance. She is going to stand for what she believes is right, and she will probably find the way to shine even in this difficult predicament.


Dominic Stricker cruises past Luca Nardi at the Next Gen ATP Finals in Jeddah



Third seed Dominic Stricker cruised past Luca Nardi 4-1 4-1 4-2 in 54 minutes in the fastest match in the history of the Next Gen Finals at the Next Gen ATP Finals at the King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah bouncing back from his defeat in the first match against Flavio Cobolli on Tuesday. 


Stricker converted four of his six break points and hit 13 winners, including 3 aces. 

Stricker came back from 15-40 down in the first game after two double faults from Nardi and broke serve with a return winner on the deciding point to take a 1-0 lead. The world number 94 saved three break-back-back points in the second game from 15-40 down before breaking for the second time in the fifth game to win the first set 4-1. 

Stricker broke serve at 30 in the second game of the second set and held serve at love in the third game to race out to a 3-0 lead. Stricker served it out on his second set point. 

Stricker earned an early break in the first game of the third set on the deciding point and held his next service games. Nardi saved the first match point but he hit his backhand into the net on the second match point after the longest rally of the match. 

“We had a long discussion yesterday evening about how to do it today. I think it was really good that we talked a lot after what maybe was not my best performance. Now to come out today like that, I think nobody expected that. I am just happy that I did it and now I am going to try my best to recover for the third group match”, said Stricker. Stricker is now 1-1 in Green Group. The Swiss player is aiming to reach his second consecutive semifinal at the Next Gen Finals. He is looking to crown a good year after reaching the fourth round at the US Open. 

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Jannik Sinner, Arnaldi End Italy’s 47-Year Wait For Davis Cup Title



An in-form Jannik Sinner has secured Italy’s first Davis Cup title in almost half a century after crushing Alex de Minaur in straight sets. 


The world No.4 headed into the crucial match with his country boasting a 1-0 lead over Australia after Matteo Arnaldi won his clash against Alexi Popryin in three sets. Taking on a fiery de Minaur, a composed Sinner surged to a 6-3, 6-0, victory in Malaga to hand his country an unassailable lead and the title. The dominant performance saw Sinner produce a total of 25 winners with 18 of them coming from his forehand side. It is the sixth time he has beaten de Minaur on the Tour and he is yet to lose against him. 

“It helps a lot to play for the whole team,” Sinner said of his latest win. “It has been an incredible thing for all of us and we are really happy.”

Sinner first broke three games into his encounter with de Minaur after the Australian hit a lob shot that landed out. In control of proceedings, he rallied his way to 5-3 before opening up a 40-0 lead against his opponent’s serve. With three set points at his disposal, Sinner converted his second with the help of another unforced error coming from across the court. 

Closing in on the historic victory, the 22-year-old was in clinical form throughout the second frame as he raced to a 5-0 lead in under 30 minutes. Destroying whatever hopes Australia had of a shock comeback. Sinner closed out the match on his third attempt after a De Minaur backhand drifted wide, prompting an almighty smile on his face. 

Thanks to Australia. I know with the new format it is a little bit different to have to all come to one place. it means a lot.” Said Sinner.

In the first match of the day, Arnaldi ousted Popryin 7-5, 2-6, 6-4, in a two-and-a-half-hour marathon. The world No.44, who made his Davis Cup debut in September, held his nerve throughout a tense deciding set where he saved all eight break points he faced. Overall, he hit a total of 40 winners past Popryin and was visibly emotional afterward. 

“This match was very important and emotional for a few reasons,” Arnaldi told reporters. 
“This year for me was the first time playing for my country. I played when I was junior, but Davis Cup is just different.’
“And three weeks ago, an important person passed away. I think he gave me the power to try to stay there (in the match). It wasn’t easy to play, but they gave me the power at the end to try to win.”

It is the second time in history Italy has won the Davis Cup and the first since 1976. The triumph caps off what has been a memorable week for the team who 24 hours earlier beat Novak Djokovic’s Serbia in the semi-finals with Sinner saving three match points against the world No.1 in the singles. 

“I’m really thankful and proud to have these guys,” Italian captain Filippo Volandri commented.
“We have had to manage with a lot of emergencies during these past two years but we did it and we did it like a family.” He added.

Italy, who has become the 11th country in history to win Multiple Davis Cup titles, currently has six players in the ATP top 100 with four of those being in the top 50. 

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Alexander Zverev Deserves More Respect According To Boris Becker

According to Boris Becker, Alexander Zverev deserves more respect from tennis journalists.



Alexander Zverev (@WeAreTennis - Twitter)

Boris Becker has claimed that Alexander Zverev deserves more respect despite Zverev failing to live up to his potential at Grand Slams.


Zverev has only reached one Grand Slam final in his career despite being a regular inside the world’s top ten as well as performing at regular ATP events.

This season Zverev played a limited schedule after recovering from an ankle injury but still managed to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals.

However most critics have been loud when judging Zverev’s career as it was looking likely that he would be a regular Grand Slam champion.

The German has failed to live up to expectations but former Grand Slam champion Boris Becker believes Zverev deserves more respect.

Speaking to Eurosport Becker also said that Zverev’s father being the coach is a more than successful approach when it comes to the former US Open finalist’s career, “In my opinion, he doesn’t get enough respect from the tennis experts internationally,” Becker explained.

“They’re all talking about the young three or four, but don’t give Zverev, Medvedev or Rublev enough respect. He’s playing with his fist in his pocket a little bit, wants everyone show that he is not a thing of the past, but that his best time is yet to come.

“Surely his father knows best what is good for his son, but if you look into the box at the competition, you can also see changes.”

Becker has followed Zverev for most of his career so knows that the best is yet to come from the German.

Alexander Zverev will look to prove himself next season when he starts his 2024 season when he represents Germany at the United Cup.

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