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Naomi Osaka sponsor accused of whitewashing her in ad

CONTROVERSIAL AD: Critics have called out noodle brand Nissin for whitewashing Naomi Osaka

A NOODLE company that sponsors Naomi Osaka has apologised after an animated ad depicted the star with white skin.

Osaka, who is half-Haitian and half-Japanese, is featured in the animated ad campaign. The character designed to depict Osaka has white skin, wavy light brown hair.

Critics called out the company for whitewashing the tennis star who is both a Japanese and American citizen.

A spokesperson for Nissin, the noodle brand, said: “There is no intention of whitewashing.

“We accept that we are not sensitive enough and will pay more attention to diversity issues in the future.”

Nissin’s Daisuke Okabayashi said that the animated character had been created by Takeshi Konomi’s, a well-known manga artist, in the style of his work.

Konomi is known for his Prince of Tennis series.

Nissin reportedly said that Osaka was involved in the creation of the advert but critics have questioned the extent to which she was aware of how she had been represented in the final version.

Baye McNeil, who wrote about the ad for Japan Times, said he was truly disappointed to see that there was no woman of colour to speak of in the commercial.

He wrote: “Everything that distinguishes Osaka from your typical Japanese anime character was gone, and what was left? Your typical Japanese anime character.”

Japanese company Nissin is one of the world’s largest instant-noodle brands.

Osaka, 20, is a brand ambassador for the company. She has previously appeared in adverts for the noodles.

Osaka, who has reached the semi-final of the Australian Open, will play Karolina Pliskova on Thursday.

Pliskova beat Serena Williams 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 yesterday, knocking her out of the tournament.

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