(L-R): Mitsuyama Muruyama, the president of the Nakatsugawa Wrestling Association, USA Wrestling Associate Executive Director Les Gutches, Mayor of Nakatsugawa Setsuji Aoyama and Cody Bickley, National Teams High Performance Manager pose with the Memorandum of Understanding.
An official delegation from the City of Nakatsugawa, Japan visited Colorado Springs, Colo., #OlympicCityUSA, as guests of USA Wrestling and the U.S. Olympic Committee to sign an agreement to provide support and assistance to the U.S. Olympic wrestling teams prior to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
At a special ceremony held at McKenzie’s Chop House in downtown Colorado Springs on Sunday, January 27, the City of Nakatsugawa and USA Wrestling signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the U.S. Olympic wrestling teams to train in Nakatsugawa prior to competing in the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Nakatsugawa is 186 miles west of Tokyo and is a city with a strong wrestling culture. The city and its local leaders agreed to provide all of the required needs for the U.S. Olympic wrestling teams in all three disciplines to conduct its final training and acclimation preparation, just prior to competing in the Tokyo Games.
Heading the Japanese delegation was the Mayor of Nakatsugawa, Setsuji Aoyama, who was officially greeted at the function by the Mayor of Colorado Springs, John Suthers, and his wife Janet Suthers.
Other members of the Japanese delegation were Mitsuyama Muruyama, the president of the Nakatsugawa Wrestling Association; Tokohiko Katsuno, Director of the Nakatsugawa Wrestling Association and Kazuhide Ikedo, an official with the City of Nakatsagawa.
Representing the U.S. Olympic Committee at the function was Dragomir Cioroslan, the USOC Director of International Strategies and Development.
USA Wrestling’s delegation was led by Associate Executive Director for Programs and Strategy Les Gutches, Director of Corporate Sponsorship Ryan Johnson, Director of Communications Gary Abbott, National Teams High Performance Manager Cody Bickley, National Teams Operations Manager Jaimie McNab, Assistant National Women’s Coach Clarissa Chun, and Tadaaki Hatta, a 2008 U.S. Olympic coach. Chun was a two-time U.S. Olympian and 2012 Olympic bronze medalist.
Special guests for the signing ceremony were three Japanese wrestlers who had competed in the Dave Schultz Memorial International in Colorado Springs on January 25-27, Takaki Kato, Naoyuki Miyahara and Ruya Nozaki, and their coach Kenji Mabuchi.
The Memorandum of Understanding was signed by Mayor Aoyama and Associate Executive Director Gutches during the function. Gifts were exchanged between the delegations, which shared a dinner alongside the official ceremonies.
“Colorado Springs is a city of just under 500,000 people. We are very proud to be called Olympic City USA. We have that designation because the U.S. Olympic Committee has been here for 40 years. We have attracted not only the U.S. Olympic Training Center, but also 23 Olympic governing bodies including USA Wrestling. Sports is now a half-billion dollar a year economic driver for our city. Our longest standing sister city is Fujiyishida, My wife and I visitied Fujiyoshida in 2017 to celebrate the 55th anniversary of our relationship. We visited with Tokyo 2020, and with the Japanese Olympic Committee, because we are building an Olympic Museum and they are building an Olympic museum. We are excited that the United States Olympic Museum will open just a couple of months before the Tokyo Games. We welcome to all of you and hope you enjoy your stay in Colorado Springs,” said Mayor Suthers.
“Last year, the USA Wrestling delegation came to Nakatsugawa to visit. We knew that Nakatsugawa would be one of the hosting locations at that time. We heard the concerns of USA Wrestling at that time, and now Nakatsugawa will be its hosting city. I have been looking forward to meeting you at this event. Today, we spent some time visiting your city, and the City of Colorado Springs looks like the city of Nakatsugawa. The wrestlers will feel very much at home in Nakatsugawa, so they can train. We are looking forward to exchanges with the American athletes,” said Mayor Aoyama.
“The Olympic Games are right around the corner. We have been working with Mr. Muruyama, with his love of wrestling, with the support of the City of Nakatsugawa, which has secured funds to help our teams when they are there. That is how this all came about. Wrestling is on the back end of the Olympic Games. When we go to the Olympics, after we attend the Opening Ceremonies, we will leave Tokyo and go to Nakatsugawa to train. The resources and facilities that the Mayor and city officials in Nakatsugawa have set up for us are phenomenal. It will be great for our teams, and we are very excited about it,” said Bickley.
On two occasions in 2018, USA Wrestling visited Nakatasugawa, with Bickley, Johnson and Hatta meeting with local officials and reviewing the city and its training locations. Hatta is from a famous Japanese wrestling family, and has been a leader within USA Wrestling for decades.
In addition to the very important pre-Olympic acclimation camp, the relationship between USA Wrestling and the City of Nakatsugawa will extend into the future. Japan is a world leader in international wrestling, and Nakatsugawa is expected to host major wrestling competitions in the future which USA Wrestling will attend. Other training and cultural activities are also possible.
Memorandum of Understanding
The following Memorandum of Understanding between the City of Nakatsugawa and the United States of America Wrestling Association signed on January 27th, 2019 for the purpose of promotion of mutual exchanges and understanding toward the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games under the Japanes national government sponsored “Host Town Exchange Project.”
For this purpose, the Host Town, City of Nakatsugawa, hereby commits to the following:
1. Provide training facilities for USA Wrestling Team in the City of Nakatsugawa in July 2020
2. Transportation between the accommodation and training facilities during this period
3. Make effort for USAW to show the best performance at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics
For this purpose, USAW hereby commits
1. Participate in several events, such as cultural exchange and welcome party, planned by the Host Town
2. Provide necessary information, such as number of men and women, exact duration of camp, etc. to host Town as quick as possible and discuss unexpected issues with gentle manner, if necessary.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the parties have executed this MOU as to the date first above written
Mayor of the City of Nakatsugawa
On behalf of the President of the USA Wrestling Federation President Bruce Baumgartner
Associate Executive Director Les Gutches