On 23 July, we will witness the start of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Yes, the title will remain Tokyo 2020 even though we are in the year 2021. As we all know, the COVID-19 global pandemic has forced us to postpone the Games to this year, but we have been preparing to hold the Tokyo Games in a safe and secure manner by strengthening our efforts to ensure that all precautions and measures are taken to provide a healthy and safe environment for all participants. The Tokyo 2020 games will serve as a symbol of global unity in overcoming Covid-19 and it will also show the world how the human spirit, fortitude, ingenuity and ability to collaborate has helped us to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is also an opportunity for the Japanese people to express our profound gratitude for the solidarity and support received from all over the world, including from Ethiopia, at the time of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. We wish to show the world how Japan has recovered from this unprecedented disaster of 10 years ago, which took the lives of over 19,000 people and destroyed many communities. By showing to all those afflicted by natural disasters or conflicts around the world, Japan hopes to serve as a good example of how we can build back better through determination, hard work, perseverance, and collaboration with others, and most importantly, with hope.
The vision of Tokyo 2020 is “Sport has the power to change the world and our future”, and you will certainly experience it and become a part of it. Under this vision, there are three core concepts. First, “Striving for your personal best.” The athletes in the world have prepared for the last five years – not four years as an ordinary Olympic interval – for the august competition venue to have their best performances, and the coaches, families and other people around them also have provided their support for longer period than usual. In order to respect their dedication and efforts, the Tokyo 2020 Games aim to deliver an event where every athlete can realize his or her potential and achieve their personal best performance through flawless preparation and execution. As the host, Japan will provide the world’s best technology at competition venues and during the operation of the games. Let’s hope to have another “Abebe Bikila”, who is still remembered by many Japanese people as the “barefoot king” or the “philosopher on the run” for his impressive victory at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games.
Second, “Accepting one another.” Accepting and respecting differences in race, color, gender, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin etc. allows peace to be maintained and society to continue to develop and flourish. Tokyo 2020 will foster a welcoming environment and raise awareness of Unity in Diversity among the citizens of the world.
In this regard, I would like to point out that Tokyo 2020 will have the highest participation of female athletes in the history of the Olympic Games, as 49% of the athletes will be female. Recalling the 1st modern Olympic Games in Athens in 1896 which had no female athlete participation, we can say we have come a long way towards achieving gender-balance.
I am also confident that the Ethiopians, who live in a multi-ethnic country and respect differences in its own motherland, will be exemplary in implementing Unity in Diversity during the Tokyo 2020 Games.
Third, “Passing on legacy for the future.” Japan wishes to promote future changes throughout the world, and leave a positive legacy for future generations. One of our efforts towards this end is to contribute to an environmentally friendly and sustainable society. For instance, all the medals presented to the winners at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, which will amount to approximately 5,000 in number, have been produced by recycling small consumer electronic devices such as mobile phones donated by the people in Japan. Gold, silver and bronze were extracted from these “urban mines” created by the goodwill of people who wanted to contribute to Tokyo 2020 by donating these goods. The podiums to be used in the Victory Ceremonies have been made with recycled plastics as well as ocean plastic waste. Zero-emission, autonomous vehicles will be used in the Athletes’ Village and during your transportation to and from the event venues. .
Another will be the harmony of advanced technology and humankind for the future. You will be assisted by extensive usage of robot technology, including the mascot-type robot, humanoid robot, field support robot etc. so that you will have the opportunity to glimpse a future where humans and robots live together with enhanced social goods.
We are reminded that the Olympic Games are a “Festival of Peace”. In December 2019, the United Nations General Assembly adopted unanimously the Olympic Truce Resolution, presented by Japan representing 186 sponsors, including Ethiopia. The resolution urges the UN Member States to observe the Olympic Truce from the 7th day before the start of the Olympic Games until the 7th day following the end of the Paralympic Games. It underlies the importance of cooperation among Member States to collectively implement the values of the Olympic Truce around the world, and welcomes the leadership of Olympic athletes in promoting peace and human understanding through sports and the Olympic Ideal. Thus, we strongly urge that the cessation of hostilities will be realized in every corner of the world during this period.
In November 2020, Ethiopia and Japan commemorated the 90th anniversary of the establishment of our diplomatic relations. Although we are geographically far apart, we have many things in common, such as very long and unique histories and cultures of its own. The Ethiopian Athletes and delegation members will be special ambassadors to Japan at this time, and maybe have a chance to visit Kasama City, which is a “Host Town” for the Ethiopian athletes, by promoting people-to-people, economic and cultural exchanges. The preparation is well underway, with good advice from an Ethiopian athlete Mr. Abebe Mekonen, who is a three-time winner of Tokyo Marathon. I hope this Host Town arrangement and exchanges will strengthen friendship between the people of Kasama and the Ethiopian delegation, and they can enjoy the true Japanese hospitality during their stay in Japan.
Let me conclude by wishing the very best to the entire Ethiopian Team, and also by reaffirming our commitment to work towards peace and prosperity in Ethiopia, in Africa and in the world.
Ito Takako, is Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Ethiopia. the views expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect the views of The Reporter.
Contributed by Ito Takako