POSTED: 2012-06-25 05:06:25
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
LAURA WALDEN / Sports Features Communications
June 25 – The Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) celebrated International Olympic Day at in Iwaki, Fukushima and counted 5,000 participants at the local “Festas” organized nationwide. Olympic Day marks the date that Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic Games, launched the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
The Olympic Day “Festa” had a double meaning as it is also served as a day of sports, activities and games to support and encourage children affected by the earthquake last March. The kids took part in an opening ceremony with a torch relay and a speech and then were joined by Olympians and athletes to play games such as tug of war, tag and jump rope.
This year’s Festa was the JOC’s 16th edition and there are over 60 events planned by the end of 2013 under the slogan “Smiles Come from Sports”. Sponsorship for the events was provided by the IOC and the Olympic Council of Asia as part of the “Tsubasa” IOC Support Project.
JOC President Tsunekazu Takeda said, “We are honoured to be part of the celebrations for Olympic Day, and are humbled by the crowds who turned out to show their support for the Olympic Movement here in Fukushima.
“By sharing the Olympic Values of respect, excellence and friendship, we hope to contribute to positive and forward-looking recovery efforts in Tohoku. Our major focus is to encourage the continued development of the region’s young people. The involvement of some of our country’s finest Olympians and athletes inspires future generations and makes us proud of Japan’s sporting heritage.”
Beijing 2008 Games swimming bronze medallist, Junichi Miyashita, added, “The Olympic Games are the world’s greatest sporting event and I am immensely proud to be a part of the Olympic Family. With special events like today’s, the public has a chance to be involved in sport and show their passion for the Olympic Movement.
“I would love to be a part of future events like this, so I can continue to share the important Olympic Values that have had a positive impact on my life.”
Also present at the event was Isao Yoneda, Athens 2004 Artistic Gymnastics All-around champion and silver medallist in the Horizontal bar; Mitsuhiro Sato, Athens 2004 Games Athletics Olympian; Aiko Uemura, three-time consecutive Mogul Olympian; Mika Saiki, another three-time Olympian in Volleyball and Beach Volleyball; Mari Motohashi, two-time consecutive Curling Olympian; and Akira Narahashi, member of the 1998 FIFA World Cup France Japanese national team.
The JOC is actively working to help the quake affected areas of Aomori, Iwate, Miyagi, Fukushima and Ibaraki by way of the Festas and the “Ganbare Nippon” (Hang in there, Japan) project started last year.
The JOC also donated funds, sent relief goods and provided medical teams and more than 30 million yen has been collected through public donations for relief purposes.
Together with these the JOC is sending out Olympians and Paralympians to inspire youths in the quake-affected area with the Sports Kokoro Project (www.sports-kokoro.jp) for the next five years. This project will visit 542 schools and reachout to 46,000 schoolchildren to inspire and encourage them through sports.
Tokyo is competing against Istanbul and Madrid to host the 2020 summer Games. The final vote will take place on September 7th of 2013 at the Buenos Aires IOC session.
For more information contact:
Laura Walden ()
Keir Radnedge ()
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