POSTED: March 19th 2012

Japanese Olympic Committee hosts day of sports for kids in earthquake hit region

The event marked the 12th of the 60 Olympic Day happenings to be held by 2013  / JOC/Aflo
The event marked the 12th of the 60 Olympic Day happenings to be held by 2013 / JOC/Aflo

LAURA WALDEN / Sports Features Communications

TAMPA: The “Olympic Day Festa” took place yesterday in Japan to rally the young people located in the North East Tohoku region which was hit hard by the earthquake and tsunami one year ago. Japanese Olympians joined together with Pokemon character Pikachu to mentor and inspire the kids.

The day of sports and fun games was held in the Kurihara, Miyagi Prefecture under the support of the International Olympic Committee and the Olympic Council of Asia under the name of the “Tsubasa” IOC Support Project. An opening ceremony with a torch relay and opening declaration was organized and the activities included playing tag, jumping rope and tug of war.

Ai Shibata was Japan’s first-ever female freestyle gold medallist when she won the 800-meter event at the Athens 2004 Games and was on hand for the event. She was joined by Mitsuhiro Sato, Beijing 2008 Athletics Olympian; Chiemi Takahashi, Sydney 2000 Athletics Olympian; Ryuichi Shibata, Beijing 2008 Aquatics Swimming Olympian; Junichi Miyashita, Beijing 2008 Aquatics Swimming bronze medallist; Tomoyuki Hirose, Sydney 2000 Football Olympian; Saito Nobuharu, Beijing 2008 Volleyball Olympian.

Shibata said, “It is my second time to participate in this programme. Even if I wish to make a difference alone, at times it is difficult.

“Sports has the power to allow people to forget any problems they’re facing and to fully concentrate on one thing, while having fun simultaneously.

“Therefore, it is extremely important for events such as these to continue, providing a platform for athletes and children to interact as much as possible. I definitely plan on participating in such events as often as I can.”

JOC President and head of the Tokyo 2020 bid, Tsunekazu Takeda, said, “On behalf of the Japanese sports community, I sincerely appreciate the heartwarming support from our friends in the Olympic Movement. Seeing these happy children interact with world-class athletes makes me proud of Japanese sports community.

“It is our duty to support the people in Tohoku by organising these events one after another. That’s why there will be another Olympic Day Festa soon, and many more to follow.

“By sharing the Olympic values of respect, excellence and friendship, we hope to bring and contribute to a positive and forward-looking impact on efforts for recovery in Tohoku and wish for continuous development the young generation in the years to come."

Tokyo is bidding to host 2020 Olympic Games is competing against Baku, Doha, Istanbul, and Madrid. The final decision as to who will stage the Olympic's will be taken at the IOC session in Buenos Aires, Argentina on September 7, 2013.

Keywords · JOC · Pokemon · IOC · OCA · Ai Shibata · Tsunekazu Takeda

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