Obihiro, Japan, February 23, 2017: The President of the Japanese Olympic Committee, Mr Tsunekazu Takeda, says he is “proud” of the way winter sports fans in Hokkaido have embraced the 8th Asian Winter Games at Sapporo and Obihiro.
Speaking on the last day of the speed skating competition at Obihiro Forest Speed Skating Oval on Thursday, Mr Takeda said the Olympic Council of Asia’s eighth edition of the Asian Winter Games had been well received by visiting sports leaders and fellow members of the International Olympic Committee.
What pleases him the most, however, is the support of the winter sports fans in the two host cities.
“Sapporo started the first Asian Winter Games in 1986 and this is the third time Sapporo is hosting it,” said Mr Takeda, who is Honorary President of the 8th Sapporo Asian Winter Games Organising Committee and a Vice President of the OCA.
“That means that the Sapporo people are so enthusiastic for winter sports and I am very proud that they wish to see more winter sports and contribute to the development of the Asian Winter Games.
“It is very positive for winter sports in Asia and this is why we have 32 National Olympic Committees here.”
The 32 teams include guest athletes from Australia and New Zealand in the Oceania confederation, and Mr Takeda feels the invitation from the OCA to Oceania to send athletes to gain winter sports experience has also been a big success.
“I think it has been good for both sides, for Oceania and for us,” said Mr Takeda.
“The presence of athletes from Australia and New Zealand has increased the competition for our Asian teams, and at the same time the guest athletes have benefited from competing in such a high-level winter sports event like this. They have helped each other to improve.”
Mr Takeda said that the OCA President, His Excellency Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah, regarded Sapporo 2017 as a “great success” in terms of the organisation, the friendliness of the local people and the high number of spectators at the venues.
The 8th Asian Winter Games opened on February 19 and will close on Sunday. Almost 30,000 spectators attended the opening ceremony at Sapporo Dome and more than 40,000 spectators attended the first four days of competition.
There are five sports, 11 disciplines and 64 events, with 1,200 athletes competing from the 32 National Olympic Committees.
Caption: Mr Takeda (right) presents a gift to the Mayor of Obihiro, Mr Norihisa Yonezawa, at the Obihiro Forest Speed Skating Oval on Thursday.