COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee today launched Team USA’s “Thank You, Japan” initiative, an international goodwill campaign that aims to contribute to the positive legacy of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 and to share the Olympic and Paralympic values with the people of Japan.
The initiative was announced during the annual Symposium on Accessibility in Setagaya City – a ward of Tokyo, Japan, that has the designation of “Host Town USA” as the location of the USOPC’s High Performance Center for U.S. athletes during the Tokyo Games. Through “Thank You, Japan,” Team USA athletes will have the opportunity to say thank you to the people of Japan for hosting the world at the Games next summer, experience the culture and sights that they seldom have time to explore during their busy competition schedules, and interact with Japanese athletes outside of competition. “Thank You, Japan” activity will include Team USA athlete exchanges, youth sport clinics, introductions to Japanese culture such as a Team USA manga comic strip series, and various community relations events.
“We are incredibly excited for the Tokyo Games and to see what advancements Japan will bring to the Olympic and Paralympic movements,” said USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland. “Through the ‘Thank You, Japan’ initiative, our goal is to join Japan in continuing to spread the Olympic and Paralympic values while providing Team USA athletes with the opportunity to learn more about the country and embrace the community that will host us in 2020.”
To set the tone for the many upcoming engagements between the Japanese community and Team USA athletes, members of the U.S. Wheelchair Rugby National Team, including Chuck Aoki, Joe Delagrave, Chuck Melton and Josh Wheeler, visited Japan for a full-day immersive experience Monday, Oct. 21, centered around accessibility in the busy shopping areas of Setagaya. During their visit, the athletes were led on a tour of the Setagaya shopping district to observe accessibility improvements made to the city and met with Japanese rugby legend Toshiaki Hirose for a traditional Japanese lunch.
Following the tour, the athletes participated in a panel session during the city of Setagaya’s Symposium on Accessibility with residents of the local community at Nihon University to discuss the topic of “accessibility for the disabled” and share the latest approaches taken in Japan and the United States to create more inclusive and barrier-free societies.
The USOPC also unveiled a “Thank You, Japan” logo, which pays homage to the culture and history of Japan. Within the design, a depiction of the flat-topped Mount Fuji can be seen within the “A” of “Japan,” and the navy blue text ties back to the Japanese tradition of indigo dyeing, a symbolic recognition of Japan’s heritage and craftsmanship.
Over the next year, Team USA will continue saying “Thank You, Japan” through a series of in-market initiatives, including a visit to Tokyo by 17-time Paralympic track and field medalist Tatyana McFadden and 400-meter indoor world record holder Michael Norman to officially unveil the new track and field training facilities at Okura Sports Park in Setagaya City on Nov. 23. Okura will be the location of the USOPC’s High Performance Center for U.S. athletes at the Games. The “Thank You, Japan” visit Nov. 23 will include youth sport clinics, panel discussions and athlete exchanges.
“As members of Team USA, we are so grateful to the people of Japan for hosting us at special cultural exchanges, test events and at the Olympic and Paralympic Games next year,” McFadden said. “Japan is such a hospitable and welcoming country. We are excited to experience the unique Japanese culture, and we’re honored to have the opportunity to call Setagaya City our home for training and preparation throughout the Tokyo 2020 Games.”
Since Beijing 2008, the USOPC and Team USA athletes have been saying thank you to host countries through unique initiatives aimed towards fostering goodwill and sharing the Olympic and Paralympic values with global communities. More “Thank You, Japan” activity will be announced in the coming year as Team USA athletes gear up for the Tokyo Games.
About the USOPC
Founded in 1894 and headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee serves as both the National Olympic Committee and National Paralympic Committee for the United States. The USOPC is focused on protecting, supporting and empowering America’s athletes, and is responsible for fielding U.S. teams for the Olympic, Paralympic, Youth Olympic, Pan American and Parapan American Games, and serving as the steward of the Olympic and Paralympic movements in the U.S. For more information, visit TeamUSA.org.