It’s only been a few days since the long-delayed 2021 Olympics kicked off, and sports fans have already been met with heartbreak. Tennis superstar Naomi Osaka, who lit the torch during the Opening Ceremony, lost to Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic on Tuesday, July 27, and will no longer be competing. “I am really glad to be here. I am sad I lost, of course, but all in all, I am really happy with my first Olympic experience,” Osaka said in a statement after the game.
Still, fans who watched the game (and warmup) found a musical Easter egg. While Osaka was prepping for her Vondrousova match, K-pop connoisseurs were quick to point out that the song playing in the background was “Dream Glow,” an underrated hit of global superstars BTS in collaboration with Charli XCX in 2019. Because the song, which is from the BTS World: Original Soundtrack album, isn’t as widely known as tracks like the chart-topping “Butter” and bop “Dynamite,” fans took to Twitter to do some sleuthing on Osaka’s BTS fandom and whether she’s a member of ARMY. One fan even pointed out, “only [one] who is Army and deep into BTS songs, knows Dream Glow.”
That’s when they unearthed a tweet from July 2020 in which the four-time Grand Slam champion revealed she once had a BTS stan account. “Fun fact: I once had a IG page called ‘free hobi’s forehead’. And that’s on bangtan sonyeondan,” she posted. (Hobi, aka J-Hope, famously has bangs covering his forehead, which stans prefer on full display.)
Osaka’s roots in the K-pop fandom apparently go way back. During a press conference at the 2019 Mutua Madrid Open, the tennis star revealed she listened to other K-pop groups before learning about BTS. “I got into BIGBANG and 2NE1, especially CL,” she said, adding, “I don't know the year, sort of like when 'Crush' and stuff came out." (For reference, 2NE1’s album Crush came out in 2014.)
About BTS, she added, “And then I just saw BTS doing a lot of related stuff, so I was like, who are these kids? Then I slowly started getting into them during the 'I Need U' era." For the uninitiated: The hit song “I Need U” was released in April 2015 as part of The Most Beautiful Moment In Life, Part 1 album, which changed the course of BTS’ fame. So, if the math is mathing, Osaka has been a BTS fan for six years.
Fellow ARMYs and Osaka fans took to Twitter to share their excitement over the revelation.
Unfortunately, Osaka is out of the Olympics, which means no more BTS-themed matches for her in Tokyo this year. Right now, she's prioritizing her mental health and wellness instead of hitting the court and talking to the press. Perhaps that self-care regimen includes listening to her favorite K-pop group, too.