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INTERVIEW: JOC chief expects Tokyo Games to give power to struggling people

  • June 24, 2021
  • , Jiji Press , 9:57 p.m.
  • English Press

Tokyo, June 24 (Jiji Press)–With the Tokyo Olympics less than a month away, Yasuhiro Yamashita, president of the Japanese Olympic Committee, has expressed hopes that the Tokyo Games will energize people across the globe.

 

According to the latest Jiji Press public opinion survey, over 60 pct of Japanese people prefer cancellation or postponement of the games amid the coronavirus pandemic.

 

But in a recent interview, Yamashita underscored the significance of holding the international sporting event, which was originally scheduled to take place last summer, in the tough environment

 

“There are many countries that suffered severer damage than Japan. And people in those countries will be given power by watching the world’s top athletes do their best,” said the 1984 Olympic judo gold medalist.

 

Despite requests for taking anti-coronavirus measures that may be regarded as too stringent, foreign athletes coming to Japan for the Olympics and other parties involved including sponsor companies do not oppose the holding of the games, Yamashita pointed out.

 

He also stressed that carrying out the Tokyo Games is Japan’s pledge to the world and that the host nation “is obliged to make efforts to make the games safe and secure until the very end.”

 

On the confrontation in the country between people who support the holding of the Olympics and those who do not, Yamashita called for not blaming athletes for what they speak about the issue.

 

“The JOC and the Tokyo Games organizing committee should take the blame,” he said.

 

Yamashita, who missed the 1980 Moscow Games due to Japan’s participation in a U.S.-led boycott, particularly sought public understanding of athletes’ desire to be Olympians.

 

“Athletes are putting their entire lives on line” just to compete at the Olympics, Yamashita noted.

 

“Those who were picked as Japanese national team members for the Moscow Games are still scarred emotionally,” he added.

 

Then Yamashita asked the Tokyo Games team members to do everything they can to achieve their own goals.

 

As for the target number of gold medals to be earned by Japanese athletes, the JOC head said he had assumed 30 but the pandemic changed all preconditions.

 

“All I want now is that participating athletes will shine brightly by giving their best performance under the current circumstances,” Yamashita said.

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