(ATR) Japan will look to match the sporting achievements of regional power China at the 2018 Asian Games.
Yasuhiro Yamashita delivering a press conference (ATR)
The next Olympic host has set no medal target for the competition in Jakarta and Palembang. Yasuhiro Yamashita, the head of the Japanese delegation, said in a press conference that his country is using the competition as a chance for new and experienced athletes to showcase their abilities ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Games.
China has dominated the last nine Asian Games, topping the medal table since 1982 in New Delhi. That event was only the third time China had participated, following the decision to admit the country for the 1974 Asian Games.
Yamashita called the 1,000-strong Japanese delegation’s participation in Indonesia two years before a Japanese Olympics a happy “coincidence”. Japan last hosted the 1964 Olympics and topped the medal table at the 1962 Asian Games in Jakarta.
However, he emphasized that athletes must be prepared to showcase their best performances in Jakarta if they are to make the 2020 Olympic team.
“To become the Olympic athletes internally in Japan there is a big competition between the athletes so those who came here to compete they cannot reserve their best performance for the future they have to fight hard to compete seriously here,” Yamashita said. “I am very very looking forward to high performance of our athletes here.”
Japan expects to succeed in head to head matchups against China in four sports: athletics, gymnastics, swimming, and table tennis. Despite these expected successes, it will be hard for the 752 athlete delegation to finish atop the table. Japan finished third in total medals at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon.
“I’m looking forward to our athletes to challenge China and to perform well,” Yamashita said. “If China and Japan perform in the high level which will be beneficial to bring up the Asian total sporting performance to the worldwide.”
The Japanese delegation remains committed to looking forward to the Tokyo Olympics, which Yamashita called a “once in a 50 years or 100 years Olympic Games”. Japan will seek to win 30 gold medals in Tokyo 2020, an ambitious target that the Japanese Olympic Committee expects to be a top three performance.
Medals will be drawn from traditional sports that Japan has historically performed well in such as judo, gymnastics, swimming and wrestling. Yamashita said that the JOC expects top performances in badminton, fencing, sailing, table tennis and weightlifting along with the five newly added sports of baseball/softball, karate, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing. All of these sports will be contested in Jakarta and Palembang.
“China is the number one country in Asia in a lot of sport events,” Yamashita said. “But I really expect that Japanese athletes can challenge Chinese athletes and I believe both countries have high level performance. Our advantage is our athletes can show their performance here so we can expect better performance in two years.”
Written by Aaron Bauer in Jakarta
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