Students from 12 universities across Tokyo came together in downtown Tokyo on Saturday 24 June, one day after Olympic Day, for Olympic Spirit competitions involving 16 teams presenting musical, dance and cheerleading performances. After enjoying dynamic, youthful performances, members of the audience voted for winners they felt had achieved their “personal best,” one of the mottos of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020. Olympic Day commemorates the birth of the modern Olympic Games in Paris on 23 June 1894.
The event brought together sport and Japan's famous youth culture, providing a glimpse of the energetic cultural celebrations that the world will enjoy in connection with the Tokyo 2020 Games.
While there was only one official winner, in fact all participants were winners because they heeded the Olympic Day call to people across the globe, regardless of age, gender or athletic ability, to get out and get active. Some 1,000 students and Tokyo 2020 co-organised the event, joining the worldwide celebration under the Olympic Day motto “Move, Learn and Discover”. From planning and organising to promoting and running the festival, the students were engaged in all aspects of the festivities. The experience also enabled the students to make friends with interested people around the world, using the hashtags #OlympicDay and #Tokyo2020.
Fourth-year Tokai University student Misaki Yokobori, the leader of Tokai University Challenge Center Dan Dan Dance & Sports Project, winner of the competition, said: “It was actually my first time performing in front of a crowd, but it was an amazing experience to create this dance piece and perform. I was very happy and I am very surprised to have won the competition. I believe people could see that we were enjoying moving our bodies. In this dance piece, foxes get lost in the world of human beings and end up having fun. We tried to express traditional Japanese beauty and harmony.”
And third-year Tokyo Kasei University student Yuuka Arai commented: “I feel honoured to be able to take part in a Tokyo 2020 event like this. My taiko group also values friendship, respect and excellence, ideas that the Olympics promote. Through playing music in an ensemble, we learn to respect each other and make friends. Especially, speaking of excellence, our team composed an original song for the first time in its history this year. In that sense, I would say, we were able to meet and go even beyond the team's potential. In 2020, I'd like to participate in the Games by going to see the opening ceremony or volunteering.”
Tokyo 2020 COO Yukihiko Nunomura commented at the opening ceremony of the event: “All of the students who are here today will be the stars of this festival, and of the Tokyo 2020 Games. You are the rising generation and will be leading the society. We have many more fun events to come until year 2020, and we look forward to seeing you there and working together to build excitement.”
Tokyo 2020 is placing a strong emphasis on engaging youths by inviting them to take a fresh approach to the Olympic Movement with their youthful perspectives and ambitions. During the Rio 2016 Games, for example, students in Japan were invited to visit Live Sites across the nation to watch the competitions, as well as view and play Paralympic sports and take part in energetic music, dance and sport performances. Also, after Japan's medallists, athletes and volunteers returned from Rio to Tokyo, students were given opportunities to converse directly with the heroes to learn from their Olympic and Paralympic experiences.
As of today, the number of Tokyo 2020 partner universities had risen to 795 and is expected to grow further. Other activities of Tokyo 2020 partner universities have included the establishment of Tokyo 2020 volunteer and human resource centres at Aoyama Gakuin University, Musashino University and Keio University, and the signing of agreements with national sport-governing bodies overseas to host pre-Games training camps by Keio University and Juntendo University.