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Yuko Arakida at the Asian Athletes Forum on Tuesday.
Forum can be a trigger for athletes to impact society

12 Jul 2011
Tokyo, Japan: The Asian Athletes Forum 2011 made a big impact on the packed house of 250 at the Pamir International Convention Centre in Tokyo on Tuesday afternoon. With a theme of “The Impact of Sport on Society”, the forum was presented by the Japanese Olympic Committee Athletes’ Commission in cooperation with the OCA Athletes’ Committee. It featured a presentation on the findings of an athletes’ survey, inspiring speeches from Olympians and Paralympians and was organised by Yuko Arakida, Chair of the athletes’ commissions of the JOC and OCA.

“I would like to thank everyone for their splendid speeches and presentations,” she said, in closing the forum.

Arakida, a gold medal-winning volleyball player at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, went on to say how everyone started playing sport for fun but then became more serious as athletes began to challenge themselves “to make the impossible possible.”

She also spoke of the ways in which Japanese athletes had made an impact on society following the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan’s north-east coast on March 11.

“We were terrified and dazed,” she admitted.

Athletes rallied, however, by producing their best performances to lift the spirits of the nation; others made collections; some loaded supplies into vehicles and drove to the hard-hit areas; while others visited shelters to talk with the survivors.

“The athletes changed sides by helping, supporting and cheering for the people,” she said. “There are no borders in sport.”

Mrs Arakida wrapped up the proceedings by saying: “I hope this forum will be the trigger for athletes to answer the question about what they can do to impact society through sport.”
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