The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games is determined to stage an Olympic spectacle like no other in four years' time. As well as bringing together the world's foremost Olympic and Paralympic athletes, the Tokyo 2020 Games will leverage the power of sport to promote various social agendas, such as respect for others and an appreciation of diversity. To this end, the organising committee has commissioned an ambitious programme of cultural events up and down the country.
One of these events, entitled TIAS Sport Conference: The Power of Sport and Education (1), was held recently over three days from 18 October at the Tokyo 2020 Toranomon office and at the University of Tsukuba's Tokyo campus. It was hosted jointly by the organising committee and the University of Tsukuba, and combined fun lectures and panel discussions with speeches by athletes and various physical exercises.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) held a training session, which is a part of their OVEP (2). Workers from the organising committee and other involved organisations as well as educators from around Japan attended the session and deepened their understanding of the five educational values of Olympism - joy of effort, fair play, respect for others, pursuit of excellence, and balance between body, will and mind.
At an open symposium, Japanese athlete Yuko Arimori, who competed in the marathon at the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games and the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games, talked about the role of sport in furthering peace, based on her own experiences of promoting sport, which have included organising a marathon in Cambodia.
Noting that the 2016 Rio Games featured for the first time a Refugee Olympic team, a panel including IOC member and Amateur International Boxing Association president Ching-Kuo Wu (Taiwan) and IOC Finance Commission chairman Ser Miang Ng (Singapore) debated a thought-provoking proposition: that sporting events could help defuse regional tensions in East Asia.
With an appreciation of diversity high on the list of planned legacies for the Tokyo 2020 Games, the TIAS event also focused on sport's ability to raise awareness of the challenges faced by the physically or mentally impaired and the many ways they successfully overcome those challenges. IOC members toured Tsukuba University's School for the Mentally Challenged at Otsuka, observing and learning about Olympic and Paralympic education at the institution. The visitors joined in games of ball tag and tag judo, which were devised by the school's students as competitions that can be safely participated in by everyone.
The more formal part of the event included a ceremony held on the University of Tsukuba's Tokyo campus commemorating IOC president Thomas Bach's visit to Japan and awarding him an honorary doctorate. The ceremony opened with a greeting from Organising Committee president Yoshiro Mori, and continued with congratulatory speeches by Japanese Olympic Committee president Tsunekazu Takeda, Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike and Japan Sports Agency minister Daichi Suzuki.
Following this, President Bach delivered a speech entitled Olympic Values: The Role of Sports and Education to a group of students invited from the University of Tsukuba and its School for the Mentally Challenged.
President Bach told the audience, Promoting the values of sport in today's fragile world is the overarching objective of the Olympic Movement. The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games are a perfect occasion to celebrate Olympism in Japan in the Japanese way and spreading it from Japan to the rest of the world.
The ceremony closed with a demonstration of traditional Japanese calligraphy by University of Tsukuba professor Nobuo Nakamura, with President Bach adding the final stroke to complete the phrase Olympic Spirit.
Going forward, the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee hopes the Tokyo 2020 Games to be more than just a festival of sport - we want them to promote the Olympic values of tolerance and diversity throughout Japan and throughout the world. This will require a steady buildup of events like these, and we are looking forward to many more such activities in Japan during the run-up to the Tokyo 2020 Games.
1 The Tsukuba International Academy for Sport Studies (TIAS) was established as part of the Sport for Tomorrow programme, an initiative by the Japanese government to promote sports and the Olympic and Paralympic Movements.
2 The Olympic Values Education Programme was developed by the IOC to promote Olympic values. Responding to a proposal by the IOC, the Organising Committee recently invited IOC Olympic Education Commission president and IPC president Philip Craven together with an IOC advisor to serve as instructors at an information session and teacher training session covering updates to this programme. The Organising Committee will pursue a range of educational activities nationwide by popularizing these learning materials through the Tokyo 2020 Education Programme.