Tokyo, 29 July 2008 – Japan’s Prime Minister and Supreme Advisor to Tokyo 2016, Yasuo Fukuda, last
night gave an impassioned send-off in the heart of Tokyo to the 330 Olympians who will represent his
country at Beijing 2008. His address demonstrated his respect for the Olympic Movement and its unifying
impact around the world.
Prime Minister Fukuda was joined at the event overlooking the iconic Tokyo Tower by city Governor and
President of Tokyo 2016, Shintaro Ishihara, former Prime Minister, Yoshiro Mori, President of the Japanese
Olympic Committee, Tsunekazu Takeda, Tokyo 2016 Chairman and CEO, Dr Ichiro Kono and other
members of the Tokyo 2016 Bid Committee, in a strong show of commitment to the Olympic cause.
More than 1,000 sports fans, elite athletes, celebrities, the country’s top pop stars and other VIPs were also
in attendance to wish Japan’s finest athletes all the best on their quest for success at the Games of the
XXIX Olympiad, in a gesture symbolic of the Japanese passion for Olympic sports.
The official Olympic farewell party involved several Tokyo 2016 athlete ambassadors who will compete in
Beijing, including Olympic gold and silver medallist gymnast, Hiroyuki Tomita; female wrestling Olympic
bronze medallist, Kyoko Hamaguchi; and Olympic female table tennis player, Ai Fukuhara.
Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda gives a speech at the ceremony.
Also present were various members of the Tokyo 2016 Athletes’ Commission, whose mission is to ensure
Tokyo hosts a unique Olympic and Paralympic Games that places the needs of elite athletes at its very
core. The Commission includes reigning Olympic champion female wrestler, Saori Yoshida, who will also
compete at Beijing 2008.
Saori Yoshida said:
“The Olympic Games is the most inspirational sporting event in the world and it is a privilege to be part of
the Japanese Olympic contingent travelling to Beijing. Along with many athletes in the Japanese National
Team, I will be striving to win gold for my country, but also for Tokyo 2016 and the incredible impact the
Games at the very heart of Tokyo would have across the globe.
“It will be an honour to compete in Beijing and I can’t wait to feel the passion of the Japanese fans travelling
to China to support me and our team. I hope my performance during the Games will reunite youngsters
back home with sport and encourage even more people to get behind Tokyo 2016.”
Tsunekazu Takeda, President of the Japanese Olympic Committee and Vice-President of Tokyo 2016,
“The passion that Japanese people have for the Olympic Games is clear from the send-off that was given
to our Olympic heroes today. Over the coming months, Tokyo 2016 will capture this passion and use it to
support its Bid to host the most compact Games in Olympic history. I am incredibly excited about watching
the Japanese stars compete with the world’s greatest elite athletes in Beijing and wish them the very best
of luck during this fantastic event.”
The heroes were seen off to the sounds of Japan’s leading musical artists who have grouped together
under the name ‘Band for Sanka’ to create the country’s official Olympic anthem, ‘Waratte Misete Kure’ –
‘Show Me Your Smile’ in English.
For further information, please contact:
Mihoko Nakagawa (Ms), Director, International Communications, Tokyo 2016
Masa Takaya (Mr), Manager, International Communications, Tokyo 2016