Wed, Sep 18, 2013 - Page 8 News List

Japan says ‘banzai’ over Olympics

By Richard Halloran

From all accounts, Japan mounted an effective campaign to be awarded the Games. Four women were evidently critical to the success of “Team Japan.”

Princess Hisako, a member of the imperial family, was technically not part of the Japanese delegation at the insistence of the Imperial Household Agency, which struggles to keep the imperial family out of politics. However, the princess drew attention by expressing Japan’s gratitude for the help of athletes after the tsunami.

Christel Takigawa, a popular TV anchor, whose father is French and mother Japanese, put her linguistic skills to work as Japan’s cultural ambassador to the International Olympic Committee. Similarly, Mariko Nagai, an experienced interpreter, compiled a list of 500 Olympic terms and appropriate Japanese translations, never an easy task.

Mami Sato, an athlete who lost a leg to cancer, not only came back to compete as a Paralympian in the long jump, but related to the committee how the tsunami had wiped out her home town.

For six days, she said, she did not know whether her family was alive or dead.

From these experiences, she said: “I learned that what was important was what I had, not what I had lost.”

Richard Halloran is a commentator in Hawaii.

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