Japan’s contingent of around 100 athletes to the Sochi Olympics has a tough task ahead of them: win the country’s first gold medal in eight years at the Winter Games. They gathered for a send-off for the contingent on Monday in Tokyo, where they were urged to show off the country’s vibrant “energy” as they try to have their best ever finish in the Winter Olympics.
The ceremony at the Grand Prince Hotel New Takanawa was attended by His Imperial Highness Prince Akishino, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Japanese Olympic Committee President Tsunekazu Takeda together with other representatives from the business, sport, and government sectors. The Chef de Mission of the contingent, seven-time Olympian Seiko Hashimoto, says that they are targeting to surpass their 10 medal haul, including 5 gold, in the Nagano games back in 1998. He said he aims to provide a solid support system for the team to help them achieve that goal.
Takeda also told the athletes that they have the weight of history to spur them on to give their best, as they celebrate a century of Japanese participation in the Olympics. “Remembering this weight of history, I am confident that all members of Team Japan will perform to the peak of their abilities while also giving full consideration to the concepts of fair play and the integrity of sport,” he said. In the last Winter Olympics game in Vancouver last 2010, Japan won three silver and two bronze medals. The last time they won gold was in 2006 through figure skater Shizuka Arakawa at the Turin Games. Abe is set to attend the opening ceremonies on February 7 at the invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
[ via Inside the Games ]