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Kosei Inoue: After Tokyo 2020, Judo and Sports Will Remain My Contributions to the World

The judoka shares his plans for when his term as coach of the Japan men’s judo team ends.

Kosei Inoue

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Hello, JAPAN Forward readers.

It is now past mid-September. The first signs of autumn are starting to appear here in Japan.

The Tokyo Olympics, which took place in extreme heat into the month of August, now seem like a distant memory. In this message, I would like to share my impressions of the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, which were held shortly afterward.

First, I would like to thank all those who made the Olympics and Paralympics possible in the midst of a pandemic that has been ongoing since early last year.

The two tournaments were made possible by the efforts of the International Olympic Committee, the Japanese Olympic Committee, tournament organizers, and volunteers, and all those supporting the Olympic and Paralympic movements.

I would also like to thank all the essential workers and healthcare workers who are battling against COVID-19 night and day.

Two Japanese coaches (left: Kosei Inoue) and two athletes make the Olympic pledge on behalf of all participants at the Opening Ceremony.

The Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics were both wonderful tournaments. In total, approximately 11,000 athletes from 205 countries, regions, and refugee groups took part in the Olympic Games, which consisted of 33 disciplines and 339 events.

Meanwhile, roughly 4,400 athletes from 61 countries, regions, and refugee groups participated in the Paralympics, which included 22 disciplines and 539 events.

Despite the challenging conditions brought on by COVID-19, athletes and officials gathered from around the globe to take part in a tournament that transcended nationality, race, politics, and religion. The spectacle was driven by the themes of “diversity and harmony.”

I believe that the efforts of the athletes have inspired people all over the world, and given them hope and dreams, and energy for the future.

Thanks to all your support, the men’s Tokyo 2020 judo team, of which I was the coach, managed to win gold medals in five of the seven weight categories. No other country has ever achieved this before in Olympic judo history.

Men’s national judo team members toss their coach Kosei Inoue into the air after a successful Olympic Games in judo.

Five years have passed since the Rio Olympics in 2016. Under the unprecedented circumstances of having this tournament postponed, athletes, coaches, and staff went about their preparations calmly, did what was necessary, and delivered in the tournament. As their coach, I am very proud to have managed this wonderful team.

However, in the mixed-team event, which took place on the final day, Japan finished second behind France. France won due to its strong individual strength and excellent teamwork. The French showed the charm of judo to the rest of the world.

Tokyo 2020 was the first Olympics to have the mixed-team judo event. We, Japan, wanted to be the first country to win this event, so it’s deeply regrettable that we finished second.

Mixed men’s and women’s national judo team, Kosei Inoue, center left.

On a more positive note, the mixed-team result shows that judo — which originates from Japan — is popular around the world. So, when I think of France’s victory in that way, I also feel quite pleased that judo has spread so far across the globe.

On September 30, I will step down as coach of the Japan men’s judo team. As my term expires, I am sincerely grateful for having received so much positive support both in Japan and from overseas over the past nine years or so.

I look forward to my next challenge as I come close to the end of this one. I plan to use my experience at Tokyo 2020 and continue to contribute to society through judo and sports in general.

Author: Kosei INOUE

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(Click here to read the article in Japanese.)

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Kosei Inoue is an Olympic gold medalist and international figure in judo whose term as Head National Coach of Japan’s Men’s Judo Team expires on September 30, 2021. As an active judoka, Inoue won many international and national tournaments and was Japan’s flag bearer at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. He is President of the nonprofit Judo foundation, JUDOs Inc.