Olympic Day Festa series gathers 10,000 people to quake-affected Tohoku
CHAD WISE / Sports Features Communications
(SFC) More than 10,000 people visited Tohoku Sunday for the 37th Olympic Day Festa – a full day of sport, activities, and games for children – supported by the Japanese Olympic Committee.
The JOC has planned a series of Olympic events throughout the year to encourage and support children affected by the 11 March 2011 earthquake using the lasting and international power of sport.
The 60th Olympic Day Festa – “Smiles Come from Sports” – will be held by the end of March 2014. The International Olympic Committee and the Olympic Council of Asia – under the “Tsubasa” IOC Support Project – are also supporting the series.
“Although I was hoping the children will be encouraged most, I was the one who was encouraged most,” Japan’s first-ever female freestyle gold medallist Ai Shibata said. “I believe in the power of sport and its ability to inspire children worldwide. It is extremely important for events such the Olympic Day Festa to take place, providing a platform for athletes and children to interact as often as possible. The children seemed to have a great time, so I was pleased to know that our efforts contributed to the healing process for these young stars.”
“In the last two years, we in Japan have rediscovered the significant role that athletes can play in society,” International Olympic Committee member and Japanese Olympic Committee and Tokyo 2020 Bid Committee President Tsunekazu Takeda said. “Reaching over 10,000 participants with our Festa series and seeing the smiles on the kid’s faces makes me extremely proud of the Japanese sports community. It is our duty to support children by continuing to organise opportunities for children to engage in sport. By sharing the Olympic values of excellence, respect anf friendship, we hope to contribute a positive, forward-looking recovery in Tohoku.”
The Japanese Olympic Committee has put on other Olympic Day Festas in the affected areas of Aomori, Iwate, Miyagi, Fukushima and Ibaraki as part of the “Ganbare Nippon” project. Funds, relief goods, and medical teams have also been supplied by the Japanese Olympic Committee, with more than 30 million yen already raised through public donations.
The Sports Kokoro Project has visited 195 schools through 384 events in 2012 and plans on visiting more than 15,000 schoolchildren in 250 schools over 500 events in 2013.
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