NEW YORK • Japan’s Naomi Osaka, American Megan Rapinoe and Briton Lewis Hamilton were among the athletes named on the 2020 “Time 100” list of the most influential people in the world.
The annual list, which is not ranked, honours individuals who have had the most significant impact on the global landscape that year. There is no winner named.
The athletes on the US magazine’s list have enjoyed sporting success as well as promoting other causes. Tennis star Osaka and six-time Formula One world champion driver Hamilton have supported the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, while Rapinoe has fought for gender pay equity in football.
Osaka wore a mask bearing the name of a different Black American victim before each match at the US Open, where she clinched the title this month, in support of the fight against racial injustice in the US. Four-time Women’s National Basketball Association champion Maya Moore, who skipped two seasons of her sport to fight for criminal justice reform, was also named on the list and penned Osaka’s tribute.
“Watching Naomi Osaka play the US Open, I was inspired by how beautifully she wove her dominant athletic performance into another narrative,” the two-time Olympic gold medallist wrote of the only Asian athlete on the list. “It took humility and grace to point beyond what she was doing, winning on one of the biggest stages in her craft, at something more important.”
American athletes who have used their platforms to back the BLM movement are continuing to find ways to promote racial justice and police reform. Many reacted with dismay to the charges filed on Wednesday in the shooting death of black woman Breonna Taylor.
A grand jury in Louisville, Kentucky charged former detective Brett Hankison with three counts of “wanton endangerment” over shots fired into adjoining apartments. Neither Hankison nor the two officers who fired the shots that killed Taylor were charged in direct connection with her death.
National Basketball Association (NBA) star LeBron James, who was on last year’s Time list due to activism and charity, wrote on Twitter: “I’m devastated, hurt, sad, mad! We want Justice for Breonna yet justice was met for her neighbour’s apartment walls and not her beautiful life. Was I surprised at the verdict. Absolutely not but I was & still am hurt and heavy hearted! I send my love to Breonna’s mother, family and friends! I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I’m sorry!!”
Other athletes named on the latest Time list were six-gold Olympic sprinter Allyson Felix, Super Bowl Most Valuable Player (MVP) Patrick Mahomes, retired NBA guard Dwyane Wade and back-to-back NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE