As Asia Junior Sports Exchange Games Open in Tokyo, Tokyo 2020 Supports Event to Enable Young Athletes to Share their Dreams

The Tokyo 2020 Bid Committee took part in an international cultural exchange programme on Wednesday, the first of its kind, with 229 junior athletes from more than 15 Asian cities. Inspired by the Youth Olympic Games' Culture and Education Programme, activities focused on the themes of Olympism, Olympic Values, skills development, wellness, healthy lifestyles and social responsibility.

The gathering, organised by Jigoro Kano Memorial International Sport Institute, which created opportunities for the youths to make new friends and share their dreams of participating in high-level competition, underscored Tokyo 2020's commitment to the future of sports, helping junior athletes experience the inspiration and excitement of international competition - and encouraging the idea that they might one day even participate in the Olympic Games.

The gifted athletes are participating in the sixth annual three-day Asia Junior Sport Exchange Games 2012 which lasts from today until 2 September in the heart of Tokyo. Organised by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and Tokyo Sports Benefit Corporation Badminton, Judo competitions for both boys and girls are taking place.

The overall aim of the undertaking is not only to foster sports-related technical and mental skills, but also encourage international friendships among youth of different nationalities, in the true spirit of the Olympic Movement.

Yona Luvitalice, 18, a judoka from Jakarta, said: "This is my third time in Japan and it's been amazing! I've made so many friends and it's just a wonderful experience to meet so many people from different parts of the world!"

Loh Kean Yew, 15, a badminton athlete from Singapore, said: "We met many friends and discovered a new culture. I definitely want to participate in future Olympic Games in Asia!"

Tsunekazu Takeda, an IOC Member and President of both Tokyo 2020 and the Japanese Olympic Committee, said: "The Asia Junior Sport Exchange Games 2012 unites Tokyo and other major Asian cities through sport, and helps to nurture the next generation of star athletes.

Although still young, these young competitors are well on their way to becoming top international athletes. Their activity will inspire other youths to follow them."

The Asia Junior Sport Exchange Games 2012 is linked with Tokyo's Asian Network of Major Cities 21 (ANMC21) programme, which works closely with Asian countries for regional prosperity and development. Athletes taking part in the games are from Astana, Bangkok, Delhi, Hanoi, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Macau, Seoul, Singapore, Taipei, Ulaanbaatar, Vientiane and Yangon, as well as the Japanese locales of Fukushima, Ibaraki, Iwate, Miyagi and Tokyo.
Image of the event

Young athletes from Asia joined together in joyful celebration in Tokyo