The Nippon Foundation Para Athlete ScholarshipProviding increased opportunities for development ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games
A press conference was held today at The Nippon Foundation headquarters in Tokyo to announce the launch of a scholarship program to cultivate athletes with impairments who can compete at the world level. The program will be offered at Nippon Sport Science University (NSSU) and its affiliated high schools from the 2017 academic year.
The scholarships will be in the form of grants for 50 students of NSSU and its affiliated high schools to facilitate their training, with the hope that they will be able to compete in the 2020 Paralympics, which will be held in Tokyo. With a total budget of one billion yen, the program is the largest in Japan targeting university athletes with impairments. In addition to school fees and living expenses, the scholarships will cover travel expenses for competitions and equipment costs, which athletes generally need to pay themselves, to provide full support for the next generation of aspiring Paralympians. The press conference opened with welcoming remarks by Yohei Sasakawa, Chairman of The Nippon Foundation, and Kenshiro Matsunami, chairman of the board of directors of Nippon Sports Science University. Mr. Sasakawa explained The Nippon Foundation’s work to achieve an inclusive society in which everyone, including persons with disabilities, can participate, and that sports is one aspect of this effort. He also noted that the goal of the scholarship program is twofold: to cultivate athletes with impairments who can compete at the world level, and to equip athletes with impairments with skills that can lead to a career beyond athletic competition, including becoming a teacher or coach. Mr. Matsunami expressed his thanks to The Nippon Foundation and commented that NSSU believes everyone has the right to enjoy sports. He then briefly discussed a new NSSU-affiliated high school that has just been completed in Hokkaido, and from the academic year beginning in April 2017 will begin offering a special sports-themed curriculum to male high-school students with intellectual disabilities. After the signing of the agreement, Kazuto Sawatari of The Nippon Foundation gave an overview of the program, and Paralympic bronze medalist Sae Tsuji shared her hopes for the program. Ms. Tsuji noted that NSSU’s multifaceted support played a significant role in her success at the Rio Paralympics, and hoped that the program would cultivate many more Paralympians going forward. These remarks were followed by a question and answer session with members of the media. In response to questions from reporters, Mr. Sasakawa pointed out that the Rio Paralympics raised the profile of para sports among non-athletes. Mr. Matsunami commented that NSSU has sought to raise the profile of para sports since the Barcelona 1992 Paralympics, which despite a large media presence, received almost no media coverage in Japan after the opening ceremony.
Overview of The Nippon Foundation Para Athlete Scholarship
|Eligible students||Students with impairments enrolled at Nippon Sports Science University and its affiliated high schools (including the new affiliated high school for students with intellectual disabilities set to open from the 2017 academic year), who have the potential to compete at the world level|
|Number of students||50 (target)|
|Amount||5 million yen per student per year (approximate, based on needs specific to the sport)|
|Items to be covered||School fees, living expenses, traveling expenses for competitions, equipment costs, etc.|
|Method of selection||A selection committee to be established at NSSU|
Communications Department The Nippon Foundation