ONOC grateful for extension of Japanese friendship in sport for Pacific athletes

The Oceania National Olympic Committees (ONOC) are pleased to extend their friendship with long-standing partners from Japan, the city of Ryugasaki and Ryutsu Keizai University (RKU), for the continued assistance with pre-Games preparation for Pacific island athletes aiming for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

The virtual Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signing took place on Friday 15 January, with Japanese partner representatives Mr Kazuo Nakayama, the Mayor of Ryugasaki City, and the President of the Ryutsu Keizai University, Mr Toshiaki Nojiri.

ONOC President, Dr Robin Mitchell, said; “With the current COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic gripping the world, the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Games, and the challenge of athletes having to extend their training schedules, it is friendships that are born out of sport that have the capacity to ease burdens for smaller countries.”

“ONOC is grateful to the Government and people of Japan for their friendship to the world and for their commitment to delivering the Games a year later.”

Dr Mitchell added that; “This friendship is not new. The first MoU was signed in 2017 and it has delivered good results for Pacific island athletes. Over the years, Ryugasaki and RKU have hosted numerous pre-Games training camps for Oceania judokas toward international judo competitions, including World Championships, Continental Championships and for various Olympic qualifiers. Judokas from Fiji, Guam, Kiribati, Nauru, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu have been beneficiaries.”

“Given fifteen of our seventeen ONOC Members are Pacific Small Island Developing States (SIDS) with limitations of distance, communications, and access to sporting facilities, coaches, nutritionists and medical experts, and mostly, the required opportunity for active competition, the friendship with Ryugasaki and RKU is invaluable. There is immense gratitude across the region for this relationship.”

ONOC Secretary General and President of the Guam National Olympic Committee, Mr Ricardo Blas, added that; “The 2017 partnership was built on personal engagement and friendships built through judo, and this contributed to Ryugasaki City and RKU being chosen to host Pacific islander athletes in pre-Games training for the Tokyo Olympics.”