Press Conference: Japanese Olympic Committee and The Nippon Foundation

Tokyo, Japan

The Chairman of Japanese Olympic Committee, Mr. Takeda has shown great enthusiasm and ardent wish to cheer up and encourage the victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake through sports, especially the youth of the region and give them hope for the future. Thus we, The Nippon Foundation has received request to cooperate with the JOC.

The Nippon Foundation continues to provide various support activities in the disaster areas. We have given support to more than 600 NPOs working in the disaster areas, and we ourselves go to the disaster areas to give condolence and support money to the families who have lost their loved ones or are still missing.

The staff of The Nippon Foundation and our partner foundations, the Sasakawa Sports Foundation and the Blue Sea and Green Land Foundation all have a wide sports network in the disaster areas and therefore, I feel that we are capable of answering to the request of JOC and to cooperate to the best of our abilities.

Especially, the Sasakawa Sports Foundation has supported approximately 8,700 domestic sports activities to date. As is well known, it sponsors the citizens’ sports event called “The Challenge Day” in the local municipalities. This is an event that the loser experiences a terrible humiliation, as it must hoist the flag of the winning municipality, at its office building. What I have heard today was that it has grown into one of the most popular events with more than one million participants from 103 municipalities.

The Blue Sea and Green Land Foundation has 478 sports facilities throughout the country. All the facilities have gymnasium and swimming pool alongside, and there are more than 10 million youth using the facilities annually. Furthermore, they have more than 17,600 trainers constantly training the young athletes at the grass-roots level. This foundation has a basic principle that of the “intellectual, morale and physical training”, it is very important that basic physical strength be developed at a young age, as well as to teach them good sportsmanship and civility in sports.

As Mr. Takeda mentioned, the ultimate goal is not only to become Olympic athletes, but I too would wish that they will become Olympic athletes who are supported and loved by the large community of Japanese citizens. The support of the citizens would be the greatest encouragement to the athletes who, themselves have been training for many years.

The role that sports plays in Japan is very important today. Sports give huge vitality and dream to the youth who are the future of our country, but also to us older generation. Therefore it is important that we start a collective movement to support the Olympic Games that gives us hopes and inspiration. For that we too, would like to be of help in making as many citizens of our country understand the importance of the role that each one of us play in sports.

It is so important that every small donation towards strengthening Japanese athletes would create an invisible bond with the athletes, especially with the youth of our nation. An invisible bond, yet the donors would be satisfied that their contributions have resulted in supporting each athlete in their training and participation in the Olympic Games.

The Nippon Foundation has made a decision to collaborate with the JOC being aware of the magnitude of the role of JOC, which bonds, invigorates, encourages the citizens of Japan, and implants hope for the future.