Tokyo, 28 July 2009 – Japanese Olympic legends joined Tokyo 2016’s campaign to connect the world’s youth with sport this weekend at a series of events designed to ignite young people’s passion for Olympism.

The events built on Tokyo 2016’s well-advanced programme of youth outreach in the 62 municipalities within Japan’s capital and increased young Tokyo residents’ support for the city setting the stage for heroes in 2016.

The three latest events in this ongoing and large-scale programme took place in Suginami, Meguro and Chuo municipalities in the heart of Tokyo. At each event local schoolchildren competed alongside Olympic medallists, including two double Olympic champions, which helped them better appreciate the true value of sport.

The first event, ‘Hello! Fencing!’, took place on Friday 24 July at Suginami Junior and Senior High School, and was led by world-class fencers including Beijing 2008 silver medallist, Yuki Ota, and Beijing 2008 Olympian, Shogo Nishida. The athletes showed the excited youngsters basic fencing skills and ended by showcasing their world-class abilities in an exhibition match.

Yuki Ota said:
“With less than 70 days before 2016 Summer Olympics Host City is announced, I am excited about the opportunities that the Games in Tokyo would create for the wider understanding and appreciation of various sport. These kids were as good as many children with actual fencing experience, so I would love to realise the Tokyo Summer Games and such kids a chance to realise their dreams.”

The second youth event – a day-long celebration of gymnastics – was held on Sunday 26 July at a public gymnasium in the Meguro municipality. Youngsters were wowed by three-time Olympic medallist, Yukio Iketani, and Beijing 2008 silver medallist, Kohei Uchimura, who performed complex routines right in front of them, The two Olympic heroes then coached the group of nearly 100 schoolchildren.

Kohei Uchimura said:
“I tried to directly convey the pleasure of gymnastics to the children. I passionately hope for the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2016. It would be fantastic to join the Tokyo Games with some of the kids actually here today.”

Finally, a grand tug-of-war was staged on the iconic Nihonbashi bridge in Chuo municipality. The competition featured two of Japan’s most celebrated Olympic champions, two-time wrestling gold medallist, Saori Yoshida, and two-time Judo gold medallist, Ayumi Tanimoto, alongside other elite athletes. While the other two events were designed to showcase the mastery of sport at the highest level, the tug-of-war pitted a small team of world-class athletes against an army of elementary students in a bridge-spanning contest that proved a hilarious way to engage youth with sport.

Tokyo 2016 Chair and CEO, Dr Ichiro Kono, said:
“Tokyo 2016 is committed to inspiring the youth of the world to enjoy fuller and healthier lives through sport. By setting the stage for heroes with the most visionary, athlete-focused concept in Games history, the Tokyo 2016 Games will be a truly unique opportunity to help world youth become more connected with sport and Olympism.

“Meeting, enjoying sport and having fun alongside Olympic heroes is simply inspirational for children and young people. Tokyo 2016’s commitment to giving youth the opportunity to do this demonstrates how the Games at the heart of Tokyo will leave an unprecedented legacy for the entire Olympic Movement.”

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