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Winning bid for hosting 2020 Games must lead to better fitness of people
Publication Date : 16-10-2013
Today is Health-Sports Day, which was established as a national holiday to commemorate the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.
Tokyo will host the Summer Olympic Games again in 2020 as well as the Paralympics. Winning the bid to host the Olympics should be used as an opportunity to enhance the physical strength of the Japanese people as a whole.
Since the previous Tokyo Olympics, the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry has conducted an annual survey of physical strength and capabilities of the people. An analysis of changes over the past 15 years showed an uptrend, albeit slight, in the physical strength of primary, middle and high school students.
Children’s capabilities of “running, throwing and jumping” had continued to decline since peaking around 1985 due to an increase in the number of children going to cram schools after school and a decrease in outdoor play activities. But recent years saw a rebound in their abilities, with the improvement confirmed in a survey conducted in fiscal 2012.
Their capabilities are still low compared with those at their peak, but the rebound could be regarded as a boon.
In its new curriculum guidelines, the education ministry has increased school hours of physical exercise and started nationwide tests of physical strength for fifth-year primary school pupils and second-year middle school students. Schools, for their part, have started to arrange time for students to get exercise by playing before class.
Such efforts seem to have gradually produced results.
It is important to further enhance children’s physical strength. It is indispensable to make efforts to increase opportunities for them to enjoy athletic activities.
Some local governments dispatch athletes, including those who have taken part in the Olympics, to primary and middle schools. The experience of receiving instruction directly from such athletes will provide students with an opportunity to augment their athletic capabilities.
The surveys also reveal solid physical strengths among the elderly.
A look at the length of time for standing on one foot, for example, shows that the time has been extended by 16 seconds for men and 19 seconds for women in the first half of their 70s over the past 15 years. Records have improved in almost all survey items for senior citizens.
Many elderly people proactively take part in communal sports activities to make friends and add meaning to their lives. Doing physical exercise regularly seems to contribute to maintaining and improving physical strength.
Due to the “Olympic effect,” the number of people who will start athletic activities anew is expected to increase not only among children and the elderly but also the people of other generations. This should be encouraged by opening school facilities for community residents and establishing athletic clubs so residents can enjoy exercising easily.
Tokyo’s hosting of the Paralympics is also heightening interest in sports by the disabled.
Efforts must be made to promote construction of athletic facilities that are barrier-free and otherwise facilitate free movement. It is essential to provide opportunities for both the physically impaired and unimpaired to sweat together, thereby broadening the base of athletic activities by the disabled.