NOC * NSF generally aims to make a meaningful and lasting contribution to the host country of the games. After completing the successful Social Sports Project (GEO) in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, NOC * NSF also set out to establish a new social partnership in Japan. Earlier last week, the Japan Sports Council, Dutch Olympic Committee (NOC * NSF) and three municipal districts of Tokyo (Adashi-ku, Edogawa-ku and Nishitokyo), signed an innovative cooperation agreement. The five organizations will jointly establish a new social alliance in the build-up to the Olympic and Paralympic Games, supporting the integration of people with disabilities in Japanese society.
Both in Japan and The Netherlands people with disabilities face a wide variety of challenges. Fortunately our societies are able to adapt and accommodate many of those concerns. Including the effort of making buildings, means of public transportation and sports facilities more accessible for people with disabilities. The Dutch have been fortunate enough to gather significant experience in this regard. Learnings NOC*NSF is eager to share.
People facing disabilities (and their families) frequently seem to suffer from self-consciousness and embarrassment. Potentially resulting in cases of isolation and social exclusion. Sport is a unique way to strengthen self-confidence and facilitate participation. Sport is able to connect likeminded souls and establish important bridges between disabled and non-disabled athletes. Enhancing social inclusion is in important point of attention to the Local Organizing Committee of Tokyo 2020 and the Japanese government. This project aims to contribute to the legacy of the Games. At this time NOC * NSF is the only NOC with such an initiative in Japan.
Contribute & learn
NOC * NSF Director Mr. Gerard Dielessen is delighted with this new partnership; "NOC * NSF is always keen to share its learnings and expertise. We’re hoping to contribute and learn from one another. Dutch experts will visit at least twice a year. Sharing their insights and learnings and learning about sports for the disabled in Japan. In addition, Dutch elite (Olympic and Paralympic) athletes will travel to Tokyo twice a year to inspire and motivate disabled athletes and their families, sharing their personal experiences and challenges”.
NOC * NSF head of international affairs Mr. Herbert Wolff stresses the international significance of this project. "We firmly believe in the power of sports and the responsibility to strengthen its impact, not only in the Netherlands, but also across our borders. Physical and mental disabilities shouldn’t never prevent people from enjoying the benefits of sports and exercise. This initiative perfectly illustrates the ambition of NOC * NSF and our international responsibility as a member of the Olympic movement”.
Gratitude and confidence
Also Mr. Kazumi Ohigashi is pleased with the appointments. At the signing ceremony in Tokyo he expressed his gratitude and confidence in the alliance. He emphasized the alliance will be able to add highly valued knowledge and experience to the development of sport for disabled people in Japan.
Mrs. Rita van Driel, program manager NOC * NSF, and Board Member of the International Paralympic Committee added: "For me it is an enormous honor to contribute to this initiative. It is wonderful to share my professional experiences and learnings in developing sports for people with disabilities. I am tremendously looking forward to learn from our Japanese counterparts and inspire more people - with and without disabilities – to adopt a more active lifestyle and thereby contribute to the legacy of Tokyo 2020 ".
Esther Vergeer, Chef de Mission of Paralympic TeamNL: "Sports allowed me to find my passion and develop incredibly valuable life-skills. I would love everybody to have that opportunity, whether they have a disability or not. It’s crucial to have access to sports facilities nearby. This is why I’d love to contribute to making sports more accessible to all Japanese athletes with a disability.
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