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Towards the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games

Masaaki Mori
Professor, Faculty of Letters, Chuo University
Areas of specialization: Physical education, sports sociology

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Chuo University and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics

In June 2014, more than 550 Japanese universities signed a partnership agreement with the 2020 Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (2020 Tokyo Organizing Committee) (that number has since surpassed 770).

The Olympic and Paralympic Games (the Games) are not just an international sports competition. They also have an important role to play in disseminating education about the Games, known as the Olympic and Paralympic Movement, as they go around the world’s cities once every four years.

Memories of the 1964 Tokyo Olympiad

As part of the Olympic Movement for the 18th Games of the Olympiad in Tokyo, the author, who was a elementary school student, and students of my generation read the biography of Baron de Coubertin (founder of the modern Olympics) in Japanese class, and learned about the national flags and capital cities of the nations participating in the Games in social studies class.

I became captivated with the Olympics, and from the fifth grade on, I always chose the Olympics as the topic for my summer homework assignment and spent my summer holidays in the library. I became very knowledgeable about various anecdotes pertaining to all of the Olympic Games, from the 1st Olympiad in Athens to the 18th in Tokyo. So much so, that I called myself “Professor Olympics” and would proudly tell everyone around me everything I knew.

Chuo University’s Olympians and Paralympians

Every year, a list of Olympians and Paralympians from Chuo University is published in Chudai Sports, the magazine of the Gakuin Taiiku-kai, which is the Sports Teams branch of the Chuo University Alumni Association (Gakuin-kai).

Kikunosuke Tashiro competed in the 8th Games of the Olympiad in Paris in 1924 in track and field, thus beginning Chuo University’s association with the Olympics. After that, Kohei Murakoso ran in the 5,000 and 10,000 meter track events at the 11th Games in Berlin, races that have gone down in the annals of Olympic history as epic battles. Murakoso’s gallant figure can be seen in the documentary film, Olympia 1. Teil – Fest der Völker (Festival of Nations), in which those races were featured.

Czechoslovak runner, Emil Zátopek, who won gold in the 5,000 m, 10,000 m and the marathon at the Helsinki Games in 1952 (nicknamed the “Czech Locomotive,” he is the only person in Olympic history to win all three of these events at the same Olympiad), greatly admired Murakoso as a runner. In April 1981, when Zátopek was invited to the Tama Road Race, he expressed a fervent desire to run with Murakoso, so the two ran together for 5 km of the race route.

Chuo University has also produced Paralympian in gold medalist alpine skier in the sitting class, Kuniko Obinata (then an NHK employee), who had an outstanding showing at the Nagano Winter Paralympics in 1998. At those Games, the cheer squads of seven Tokyo universities banded together as volunteers to perform Japan’s unique style of very energetic cheering, which met with vigorous applause from the spectators from other countries (Ito, the leader of Chuo University’s cheer squad at the time, also took part).

In 2000, six then current students, members of Chuo University’s swim team, competed at the Sydney Olympics, with Mai Nakamura bringing home the silver medal in the women’s 200 m backstroke. Along with fellow Chuo students, Masami Tanaka and Sumika Minamoto, Nakamura was also part of the bronze medal-winning 4x100m women’s medley relay team. Shinya Taniguchi finished eighth in the men’s 400 m individual medley. Junko Isoda competed in the women’s breaststroke events, and Woo Chul swam for Korea in the men’s freestyle events.

January 18, 2016 Symposium: “Towards the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games”

On Monday, 18 January, a symposium was held at Chuo University. The three presenters, Koichi Wada, Naofumi Masumoto, and Fumio Morooka, have experience presenting at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic University Partnership Project regional forums and they are all active in the Japan Olympic Academy.

Some very interesting cases were presented at the symposium. “Is de Courbertin’s vision of the Olympic spirit (the chance to pass down cultural values, including sports and art) still being carried on today?” “Has the campaign for peace, undertaken in partnership with the United Nations, been effective?” “Examples of the impact on Sophia University of its involvement in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, and examples of approaches of faculty and staff collaborative approaches towards 2019 and 2020.”

January’s event was Chuo University’s first symposium related to Tokyo 2020, so we wanted it to be an opportunity to consider the Games from diverse perspectives.[1]

After the above presentations were heard, many opinions and questions were forthcoming from the floor about how the people of Chuo University (students, faculty and staff, and alumni) and local residents could become involved from their respective positions.

I believe that this symposium played a role that will assist in the future planning of Tokyo 2020.

Approaches Going Forward

  • 1. Since 2015, regional forums, hosted by partnership universities, have been taking place throughout the country as part of the University Partnership Project. In the Kanto region to date, Tokyo Metropolitan University (TMU) and Tokyo University of the Arts (TUA) have each hosted one of these forums. Each university organized its forum in a way that took advantage of that university’s distinctive characteristics. At TMU, for example, the theme was “Volunteering.” Several students who attended the Forum expressed the view that academic-calendar as they are in 2015 make it impossible for university students (including post-graduate students) to be involved in volunteer activities. At the TUA Forum, TUA students gave a live performance of the marches that were played at the 1964 Tokyo Games, 1972 Sapporo Winter Games, and 1998 Nagano Winter Games. I am hoping that Chuo University will be able to host one of these regional forums in the near future.
    With so many people connected to Chuo University involved in the preparation for Tokyo 2020, including Mr. Toshiaki Endo, the Japanese Government Minister in charge of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympics (graduated 1973), I believe that there are expectations that their alma mater will come up with a diverse range of proposals in the lead-up to the 2020 Games.
  • 2. Classes Related to Tokyo 2020
    From the 2016 academic year, the Faculty of Letters’ Modern Society and Sports course (open to all faculties) will offer a class on “Chuo University and Sports.” Among other topics, this class will discuss the history of sports at the university (Sports Teams League) and current approaches being taken towards sport. The class will, of course, also include content about the 2020 Games, so I hope that a large number of students will take the class.

Reference

  • “List of Results of Olympic Athletes with Ties to Chuo University” [Chuo Daigaku Kankei Orimpikku Senshu Seiseki Ichiranhyo], Chudai Sports (2014), pp. 8-18

Footnotes

  1. 2020 Olympic-related events were conducted on Homecoming Day (mainly for alumni) on Sunday, 25 October 2015. On this occasion, the organizer was the university’s Institute of Health and Sports Sciences.
Masaaki Mori
Professor, Faculty of Letters, Chuo University
Areas of specialization: Physical education, sports sociology
Professor Mori was born in 1952 in Hakata, Fukuoka Prefecture. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the Faculty of Letters, Chuo University in 1976 and went on to complete a post-graduate course in the sociology of physical education from the Graduate School of Physical Education, Juntendo University in 1978. He started working at Chuo University in 1988 and assumed his current position as a professor of sports sociology with the Faculty of Letters in 2002. He is a rugger man who participated in the Japan Invitational Sevens until the age of 30, and has conducted research on the organization of festivals and sports clubs, based on his exposure to the sports cultures of Australia and New Zealand.
Professor Mori has been a member of Advisor to the President (member responsible for promotion of sports) and attends 2020 Tokyo Organizing Committee meetings. A self-appointed “Professor Olympics” since elementary school, he strongly wishes that Chuo University will host a University Partnership Project Forum.