It is now less than one year until the start of the 2024 Paris Olympics. Competition to select the members of national teams is intensifying and Japanese athletes are garnering attention at international competitions.
We receive many benefits from sports. For one, we can share a sense of unity by experiencing the same emotions watching exciting competitions.
When a Japanese team is successful, that invigorates society and makes us feel proud to be citizens of the same country. That is where the "power of sports" lies.
Japan finished third in the men's Volleyball Nations League in July. It was the team's best showing in an international event since it earned the bronze at the 2005 FIVB World Grand Champions Cup.
At the World Aquatics Championships which just finished in Fukuoka City, Japan captured four gold medals in the artistic swimming category. If silver and bronze medals are added, Japan's medal haul of seven artistic swimming medals matches its record performance in 2022 for that discipline. We offer congratulations and applause to the athletes whose daily training has paid off so well.
Scandals Dampen Public Enthusiasm
Public interest in the Olympics seems to have waned since the Tokyo Games were held in the summer of 2021. Distrust of the Olympic Games has grown due to irregularities surrounding preparations for that event, including several bid-rigging scandals
There is no denying that memories of how moved and excited we became two years ago have faded.
But our athletes should not be held responsible for these problems. Rather, we should remind ourselves their incredible struggles and achievements have reaffirmed the inherent power of sports.
Finding the Power of Sports Beyond the Silent JOC
Currently, there is no goal to create stronger athletes. However, continuing our support for athletes who carry the flag of Japan and compete around the world reflects a legacy that we, as a country that has hosted the Olympics, must protect.
Unfortunately, the current Japanese Olympic Committee has been poor at communicating a position as an organization for good governance in sports. That includes preparations for the Olympics. And the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee is now under liquidation. It lacks awareness as one of the parties involved in the bribery scandals surrounding the Tokyo Olympics. These organizations threaten to thwart a wave of enthusiasm building as the Paris Olympics approach.
Hopefully, Japan's athletes will demonstrate that the power of sports is not at all compromised.
Rather than succumbing to a feeling of "I've had enough of the Olympics" because of the negative fallout from the Tokyo Olympics, may we instead once again become inspired by the power of sports.
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(Read the editorial in Japanese.)
Author: Editorial Board, The Sankei Shimbun