Ordinarily, Naomi Osaka would have been gearing up for a landmark sporting event in her young career: making her Olympic Games debut at home in Tokyo as the top-ranked Japanese player.
Instead, with the Games postponed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the two-time Grand Slam champion will instead be part of the five-day Summer Festival of Olympian and Paralympian Online Experiences, a curated programme of activities hosted by athletes and presented by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and Worldwide Olympic Partner Airbnb from 24 July - the date the Games would have begun in Tokyo.
Osaka will be joined by India's six-time doubles major winner Sania Mirza, who would have been competing in her fourth Olympic Games and seeking to improve on her fourth-place finish in mixed doubles at Rio de Janeiro 2016 alongside Rohan Bopanna. The two former World No.1s will take part in the Festival on 28 July, when fans will be able to get a glimpse into Osaka's quarantine training and learn a Grand Slam-inspired training regime with Mirza.
Guests will be able to book interactive experiences from 22 July, with proceeds providing valuable income to Olympic and Paralympic athletes.
"The Olympic Games bring the whole world together and, whilst we will all have to wait one more year to celebrate in Tokyo, the Olympic flame continues to be the light at the end of the dark tunnel humankind is currently going through," said IOC President Thomas Bach. "It demonstrates that we are stronger together. This festival is a great platform to unite and inspire the world in the spirit of friendship and solidarity this summer. The IOC puts the athletes at the heart of the Olympic Movement and supports them at every stage of their journey."