Tokyo, 5 August 2009 – The creator of a famous comic book, animation and video game series that has inspired some of the world’s greatest footballers, including Lionel Messi, Fernando Torres, Alessandro Del Piero and Francesco Totti, today created a series of unique illustrations to promote Tokyo’s Bid for the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Yoichi Takahashi, who launched the “Captain Tsubasa” manga and anime series, which goes by different names around the world, developed the illustrations on a special Tokyo 2016 flag, along with a personal message of support for hosting the world’s greatest sporting event in the heart of Japan’s dynamic capital.

Top athletes, celebrities and Japanese sports enthusiasts followed Takahashi in adding messages of support to the flag, which will be taken by the Tokyo 2016 delegation to Copenhagen where the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will select the host city for the 2016 Games on 2 October.

Japan’s unique youth culture is at the heart of Tokyo 2016 setting the stage for heroes; uniting young people around the world with sport and the Olympic Movement.

Yoichi Takahashi said:
“Athletes are a fantastic source of inspiration, so I enjoy recreating their heroics in my anime to not only excite, but also to inspire my readers. It gives me great satisfaction when I hear that Captain Tsubasa has encouraged so many young people and famous stars to play football and work hard to achieve their goals.

“I support Tokyo 2016 because I believe that the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo would be truly inspirational for young people worldwide, creating perfect conditions for athletes to give peak performances and for new generations of heroes to emerge.”

Dr Ichiro Kono, Chair and CEO of Tokyo 2016 said:
“We are honoured that Yoichi Takahashi, a leading figure in Japanese popular culture, has shown his support for the Tokyo 2016 Bid to hold the most compact, athlete-focused and sustainable Games in history; a Games that will bring a new 100-year legacy for the Olympic Movement.

“The wide appeal of anime is just one example of Japan’s ability to attract, engage and inspire young people around the globe. The international popularity of manga such as Captain Tsubasa, together with other elements of Japanese pop culture, are part of our unique efforts to educate the world’s youth on the Olympic Movement and inspire them to embrace both sport and healthy living.”

The series, which follows the exploits and achievements of Captain Tsubasa and other fictional football stars has inspired millions of young people around the world, including in the United States (where it is known as “Flash Kicker”), Italy (“Holly e Benji”), Spain (“Oliver y Benji”) and France (“Olive et Tom”).

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For further information, please contact:
Masa Takaya (Mr), Manager, International Communications, Tokyo 2016