Fans of Yuka Saso supported her decision to choose Japanese citizenship under the country’s nationality law.
Saso previously told Japanese media that she chose Japan because of the country’s nationality law, therefore, will no longer represent the Philippines in the future.
The prominent athlete is born to a Japanese father and a Filipino mother.
Conforming to Japan’s law, as a dual citizen, she has to choose her nationality by the time she reaches 22 years old.
Reports said that Saso disclosed her preference on the eve of Toto Japan Classic in Shiga Prefecture.
“I chose Japan because of its nationality law,” she was quoted as saying.
Saso previously won in international competitions on behalf of the Philippines.
In 2018, she won two gold medals at the Asian Games in Indonesia.
Saso then finished ninth at the women’s gold competition in the recent 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The young Olympian later addressed her Filipino fans and thanked them for their respect and support.
The statement was released by the Pilipinas Golf Tournament Inc.
“Under Japanese law, prior to turning 22 years old, I have to choose between Japanese and Filipino citizenship. I will be turning 22 years old on June 20, 2022 and, after much thought and consultation with my family, friends and advisors, I have begun the process of acquiring Japanese citizenship,” Saso said.
“Thank you for respecting my choice. I am grateful to both my Filipino and Japanese supporters. I would not have achieved anything in my career without your support. I look forward to making you proud as I continue with my professional golfing career,” the golf star added.
Saso further stressed that she is proud of her dual heritage.
“I am a Filipina, born in the Philippines to a Japanese father and Filipino mother. I was raised in both Japan and the Philippines. I am immensely proud of my dual heritage and that will never change,” she said.
Cheers from Filipino fans
Some Filipino fans continued to cheer for the athlete following her decision. They also thanked Saso for her successful campaigns for the Philippines.
“Great choice!! You deserve what is best for you (heart emoji),” one Facebook user said.
“She has done our country proud by winning the US Open as a Filipino. Let that be her legacy,” another online user said.
Others quipped that they wish they also had the same privilege to choose a nationality.
“This is a sad news but I can’t blame her because if I was in her position I would do the same. Best of luck Yuka!” one Twitter user wrote.
“Sana lahat may ganyang option,” an online user tweeted.
Some fans, on the other hand, noted that Saso would be able to travel easier as a Japanese citizen.
According to the 2021 Henley Passport Index, Japan and Singapore are the countries with the most powerful passports in the world.
Their citizens can visit 192 countries without visas.
Others also compared Saso’s case with another Filipino athlete Wesley So who chose to represent the US in 2019.
“Wesley So, Yuka Saso, and numerous world-class Filipino professionals leaving for greener pastures. I wish for a country that makes its citizens want to stay and build a nation,” one user said.
The National Golf Association of the Philippines, meanwhile, said that they were sad to see Saso go but offered her well wishes.
“Yuka is both Filipino and Japanese. We are sad to see her go, but she will always be a huge part of Philippine golf. We thank her for her service to our country,” said NGAP Secretary General Bones Floro.
“We will always support her anytime she needs it from us. We truly wish her well,” Floro added.