Aftershocks: How sport is uniting communities in the wake of The Great East Japan Earthquake

TAUPO, NEW ZEALAND - MARCH 05:  Hiroyuki Nishiuchi of Japan in action on the run leg during the 2011 Taupo Ironman on March 5, 2011 in Taupo, New Zealand.  (Photo by Sandra Mu/Getty Images)
TAUPO, NEW ZEALAND - MARCH 05: Hiroyuki Nishiuchi of Japan in action on the run leg during the 2011 Taupo Ironman on March 5, 2011 in Taupo, New Zealand. (Photo by Sandra Mu/Getty Images)

We follow Japanese Olympians to their hometowns to see how they are rebuilding their communities through sport.

Friday 11 March 2011: the day Japan’s east coast was shaken to its core.

The Tōhoku earthquake began at 14:46 local time, measuring 9.0 on the Richter Scale, and claiming 15,848 lives.

To make matters worse, the subsequent tsunami caused a cooling system failure at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, which resulted in a level-7 nuclear meltdown and release of radioactive materials.

The coastal areas of Tohoku and southern Hokkaido were totally devastated, with approximately $360 billion-worth of damage caused.

However, as the dust settled on one of the country’s largest ever natural disasters, the true power of sport began to show.

In the new Olympic Channel series Aftershocks, we follow athletes whose lives were directly affected by the The Great East Japan Earthquake. They travel back to their hometowns to discover how sport is helping rebuild the lives of people in their communities.

How the city’s annual marathon inspires hope for the people of Minamisoma
09:04

In Episode 1 of Aftershocks, triathlete Hiroyuki Nishiuchi returns to Minami Soma, which was at the centre of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The two-time Olympian takes in the remarkable recovery the city has made since 2011, with many of the residents having now returned to work.

Nishiuchi also takes part in the annual Minamisoma marathon - a shining example of how sport can unite people.