Overcoming the one-year postponement and cheering on the representatives taking on the world!
On Wednesday, July 7, just before the opening of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, a send-off party was held to cheer on the Waseda alumni and current students who will participate in the Tokyo 2020 Games.
In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the send-off party was held online, and was watched live by 140 current students and faculty members. Among the representatives who will be competing in the Olympics, Daiya Seto (swimming), Yui Susaki (wrestling), Hitomi Hatakeda (gymnastics), Keiju Okada (sailing), and Hiromu Yamauchi (athletics) participated, and of the representatives who will be competing in the Paralympics, Koyo Iwabuchi (table tennis) participated.
The send-off party was moderated by Oi-san (second-year, Graduate School of Environment and Energy Engineering) and Miura-san (second-year, School of Social Sciences) of the “VIVASEDA” Olympics promotion project by Waseda University students, and began with a performance of the “Konpeki no Sora (Deep Blue Sky)” cheer song by the Cheerleading Club.
Then, “Waseda tamashi (Waseda soul)” was sent out to the representatives with a lively and spirited traditional performance.
Next, Waseda University President Aiji Tanaka took the stage and expressed his gratitude for the athletes’ efforts, saying, “I would like to thank all of the athletes for participating in this send-off party even though they are quite busy before the Games, and I sincerely congratulate all of you on being selected as representatives for the Tokyo 2020 Games. In this year’s Games, there are 30 Waseda University students or alumni who will compete, and four who will compete in the Paralympics. Due to the impacts of COVID-19, the Games were postponed for a year, and, even amid a situation wherein it was difficult to maintain your conditioning and motivation, all of the athletes made tremendous efforts. Once again, I would like to express my respect and high esteem for all of you who are pushing human physical abilities to their limits.”
Furthermore, while touching on the history of Waseda University and the Olympics and Paralympics, President Tanaka introduced Waseda University’s efforts, saying, “At the Tokyo 2020 Games, Yui Susaki and Koyo Iwabuchi will serve as flag bearers for the Japanese National Team, and I am very proud of the activities of these alumni and current students. Since 2016, Waseda University established the Olympic and Paralympic Project Promotion Section and has been advancing a variety of projects. For the Tokyo 2020 Games, we contributed by accepting pre-camps for the Italian National Team in cooperation with Tokorozawa City, and by accepting pre-camps for the first IOC Refugee Olympic Team in Olympic history.”
Continuing on, Chairman Yohei Kono of Tomonkai, the Waseda University Alumni Association, told the athletes that “All of you have honed and polished your skills and techniques under very strict conditions. I hope that all of your efforts and hard work until this point turn into confidence, and that you compete in the Games with everything you have. To compete well is to respect your opponent and to use every last bit of your strength. I hope that you will demonstrate your wonderful energy and impress audiences. The other Waseda alumni will surely be watching over you and looking out for every move you make.”
There was an introduction of the athletes who will be competing in the Tokyo 2020 Games, and then the program moved to messages of support from VIVASEDA. With the cooperation of ASICS Corporation, a “BIG T-Shirt” jersey was created and passed among the various Waseda University campuses and physical education departments, where students wrote messages on it, and then it was unveiled for the first time at the send-off party.
Afterwards, video messages from some of the athletics clubs, such as the Swimming Club and Athletics Club were shown. Finally, President Tanaka gave words of encouragement to the athletes, saying, “To all of you, who are representing Waseda University and who will be competing in front of the world, please use all of your strength, everything you have worked on up until this point. Everyone at Waseda University is supporting you,” and the athletes also gave comments expressing again their determination to be active at the Games.
During the time for questions from current students, one question was “How did you practice amid a situation where you didn’t know if the Games would be held?” Daiya Seto replied that “There were difficult parts, but I did everything that I could within a year. Swimming is scheduled early, so I want to gain momentum for the Japanese National Team by winning a gold medal.” Additionally, when Yui Susaki was asked about becoming a representative in a turnaround, she confided that “If you don’t believe in yourself, then you can’t move forward. I’ve worked hard to believe in myself and give it my all.”
The send-off party ended with singing the school song. To prevent COVID-19 infections, everyone could not actually sing together in one room, but the faculty members at the venue gave an enthusiastic cheer with all their might, yelling “Ganbare! (Fight hard!) Waseda!” At the closing, Naoto Onzo, the Executive Vice President of the Olympic and Paralympic Projects Promotion Section, said, “We held a truly fantastic send-off party online, and I would like to thank everyone who was involved for their cooperation. I think that everybody’s support, starting with President Tanaka and Chairman Kono, has been received by the athletes,” and then the send-off party was closed as a great success.
Introduced below are comments from the representatives who participated in the send-off party.
“As a Waseda alumni, I’m happy to have a send-off party like this held today. My goal for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics is to win a gold medal in the 400m individual medley. I will also do my best to win medals in the 200m butterfly and 200m medley events.”
“Thank you for holding the send-off party today. I think that my distinctive quality is a stable performance, and at the Games, I want to be aware of our performance as a group and contribute to the group’s results.”
“Thank you for holding a send-off party like this today. I’m nervous about my first appearance at the Olympics, but I’ll do my best to win a medal.”
“Thank you for holding a party like this day. In the sailing competition that I will be competing in, the highest rank that Japanese athletes have gotten so far is the silver medal, but, at the Tokyo 2020 Games, I want to surpass that record and am aiming for the highest results.”
“Thank you for holding the send-off party today. At the Tokyo 2020 Games, I will participate in the 400m hurdles. I’m nervous about my first Olympics, but I’ll do my best to get good results in the actual competition so that I can move onto the next rounds.”
“Thank you for today. Even online, it was encouraging to see that many people are looking forward to the Tokyo 2020 Games. With all of the heart-felt support that I received today, I will do my best, but my goal at the tournament is more than just a gold medal. I want to convey the joy of para sports to the viewers, not just through my results, but also through my own play.”
*After the send-off party, two alumni were newly selected to represent Japan in the Paralympic Games, and, as of July 8, 36 Waseda alumni are scheduled to participate in the Tokyo Games.