British Team Wins First SPOGOMI World CupCompetition among 21 national teams in Shibuya builds momentum for reduction of ocean debris

With planning, oversight, and support from The Nippon Foundation, SPOGOMI World Cup 2023, the first world championship for SPOGOMI, a sport that originated in Japan based on collecting trash (gomi is the Japanese word for trash), was held in Shibuya, Tokyo, on November 22, 2023. Representative teams from 21 countries, selected through preliminary competitions, competed, with the team from Britain declared the winner and the team from Japan placing second.

Group photo of 21 national champion teams, hosts, ambassadors, and other related individuals

Prior to the competition, preliminary competitions were held in 20 countries on six continents, as well as in all 47 prefectures of Japan, with the 21 winning teams going on to represent their country in the final competition. The competition comprised a morning and afternoon session, with 45 minutes for trash collection and 20 minutes for sorting trash for each session. The winning team, The North Will Rise Again from Britain, collected a total of 83.70 kilograms of trash at the two sessions combined, earning 9,046.1 points. The runner-up team, Smile Story from Japan, collected 55.50 kilograms, earning 6,154.4 points, with a total of roughly 548 kilograms collected by all teams combined.

The Nippon Foundation aims to hold a 2nd World Cup in 2025, with Executive Director Mitsuyuki Unno commenting at the closing ceremony, “Our aim is for a society in which trash collection and SPOGOMI will no longer be needed, with no more trash coming from cities and oceans. This is a difficult challenge, but together with the 1,764 teams from around the world that participated, this is the future we hope to achieve.”

The event is being hosted by the NGO Social Sports Initiative, using a US$2 million donation from clothing retailer Fast Retailing Co., Ltd.

Winning team profile – Britain’s The North Will Rise Again


  • Sarah Louise Parry
  • Alexander George Winship
  • Jonathan Michael Winship

Ms. Parry decided to form a team and participate because her brother was a member of Brazil’s representative team, and she had an interest in Japan. She saw her brother for the first time in two years at the competition. The team members are all athletically inclined, playing soccer and running in marathons in addition to SPOGOMI. The team won by covering a wide area to find trash and collecting a large amount. They were awarded medals and a championship cup.

The winning team, The North Shall Rise Again, from Britain

Team comment

“We had never heard of SPOGOMI but we love sport and it’s given us an amazing opportunity to learn so much about Japan, Japanese culture and also the main point which is the environment and how we can clean up more to protect the oceans. We want to bring it back to the UK a bit more. It would be great to see other people playing in the UK a bit more. We only had one round in the UK but maybe we could have in Scotland, in England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Wales and then we could have more local competitions and then the winner of that goes to Japan.” (Ms. Parry)

Comment from Yohei Sasakawa, Chairman, The Nippon Foundation

As you may be well aware, close to eighty percent of marine litter is generated on land. Once litter is released into rivers or the ocean, recovery is extremely challenging. By merging trash and sports, everyone can participate and enjoy. I would like to see this sport, born here in Japan, to spread throughout the world.

Photo of Yohei Sasakawa

Main Results

Team Amount collected
1st Place The North Will Rise Again (Britain) 83.70kg / 9,046.1 points
2nd Place Smile Story (Japan) 55.50kg / 6,154.4 points
3rd Place SpoGhetti Team (Italy) 44.05kg / 6,082.7 points

For more information, please visit the SPOGOMI World Cup 2023 website. The website will be updated as data is compiled.

  • * The competition comprised a morning and afternoon session, with 45 minutes for trash collection and 20 minutes for sorting trash for each session. Points were awarded based on the volume and types of trash collected, with the team receiving the most points declared the winner.

Comment from Japanese team

Team name: Smile Story

We were in first place after the morning competition, but struggled during the afternoon because we could not find as much trash as we had expected. The British team was stronger. It’s a bit disappointing after our planning and training. We are glad to have been able to participate together with teams from other countries who share our feelings about the earth.

Photo of the Japanese team

Overview of SPOGOMI World Cup 2023

  1. Planning, oversight, and support: The Nippon Foundation
    Host: Social Sports Initiative
    Cooperation: Fast Retailing Co., Ltd.
    Additional Support: Japanese Ministry of the Environment, Japan Sports Agency, Shibuya City
  2. Date & time: November 22, 2023 (Wednesday); 9:30-15:00
  3. Competition venue: Shibuya-ku and Minato-ku, Tokyo
    • *Opening ceremony: Public space in front of United Nations University (5-53-70 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo)
  4. Participants: 21 three-person country representative teams (63 participants)

Participating Countries

Australia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Morocco, Pakistan, Philippines, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States of America, Vietnam


Clothing retailer Fast Retailing’s flagship brand Uniqlo carried out a JOIN: THE POWER OF CLOTHING campaign in cooperation with its stores in Japan and overseas in July and October 2022. The campaign donated a portion (US$1 per product) of the sales of products made from recycled materials to activities involved in reducing plastic ocean debris. The Nippon Foundation was selected as the recipient of these donations, and used these funds to promote SPOGOMI, a competitive trash-collecting sport that originated in Japan, globally.

SPOGOMI was created in 2008 as a team competition in which points are awarded based on the amount and types of trash collected within a designated area within a designated time. Given that roughly 80% of ocean debris originates on land, collecting this trash has the effect of reducing the amount that flows into the ocean. The SPOGOMI World Cup aims to promote the sport internationally, raising awareness of the problem of ocean debris and providing an opportunity to reduce it across national boundaries and generations through a series of preliminary competitions held to select national representative teams. The Nippon Foundation’s Umi-to-Nippon Project (The Ocean and Japan Project): CHANGE FOR THE BLUE program has been promoting activities to address the issue of ocean debris, including support to popularize SPOGOMI through activities including the SPOGOMI Koshien competition for high school students.


  • February 14, 2023: Press announcement for launch of SPOGOMI World Cup 2023
  • April 29, 2023: First Japanese prefectural preliminary competition held in Osaka. National finals held in October 2023. A total of 1,221 teams participate in preliminary and national competitions, collecting a total of roughly 4,500 kilograms of trash.
  • March 18, 2023: First national overseas competition held in Indonesia. A total of 543 teams participate in 20 national competitions, collecting roughly 3,900 kilograms of trash.

Umi-to-Nippon Project: CHANGE FOR THE BLUE

Launched in November 2018 as part of the Nippon Foundation’s Umi-to-Nippon Project (The Ocean and Japan Project), the program aims to make the issue of ocean debris a personal one for all people in Japan, and to increase social awareness to ensure that “no more trash goes into the ocean.” In cooperation with stakeholders from the private, public, and academic sectors, the program is creating model activities to reduce ocean debris, and promoting them in Japan and around the world.


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