By Todd Kortemeier | July 16, 2019, 12:01 a.m. (ET)

 

The Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 run July 24-Aug. 9, 2020, and while they are still a year away there’s a lot to learn on your quest to becoming the ultimate fan. Each Tuesday leading up to the Games, TeamUSA.org will present a nugget you should read about – from athletes to watch to storylines to follow to Japanese culture and landmarks – as part of “Tokyo 2020 Tuesday.” Follow along on social media with the hashtag #Tokyo2020Tuesday.

 

When the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 kick off next year, it will have been more than nine years since the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami that left more than 15,000 people dead.

But that devastating national tragedy will never be forgotten by the Japanese public, nor will it be far from memory during the Games. Part of the goal for the Tokyo Organizing Committee is to put on Olympic and Paralympic Games that use sport to uplift people who are struggling, such as those in areas hit by natural disasters. It’s an initiative called, “The Caring Games.”

Many Japanese athletes took time to visit the Tohoku region in the aftermath of the tsunami, which gave a boost to the victims. And two years later when Tokyo was bidding for the Games, it became a priority to the bidding committee that the Games have a lasting impact beyond sport.

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Japan’s national soccer training complex was shut down in the aftermath of the tsunami. Thanks to Tokyo’s winning bid, that facility was renovated and reopened. It will serve as a training center for not only Olympians and Paralympians, but athletes throughout Japan for generations to come.  

Much like the athletes who visited the tsunami-impacted regions in 2011, the Games will bring sports back to those areas. Baseball and softball will take place in Fukushima, and soccer will take place in Miyagi Prefecture, both of which were hard-hit areas.

Japan will never be fully healed from the tragedy of 2011, but next year’s Games will show how athletics can help in the recovery process. 

Todd Kortemeier is a sportswriter, editor and children’s book author from Minneapolis. He is a contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.

 

Athletes take part in athletic meets held in areas affected by natural disasters to contribute to the psychological wellbeing of the local people.