TOKYO2020 MY LEGACY #01：Nobukazu Hanaoka(Vice Chairman of Japan Para Athletics/participated in Athens and London Paralympics)
TOKYO2020 MY LEGACY #01：Nobukazu Hanaoka
As a top athlete of wheelchair marathon, he achieved 6th place at Athens Paralympics in 2004 and 5th place at London Paralympics in 2012.
He coaches young Athletes and serves as Vice President of Japan Para Athletics.
For this interview, he told us stories of his recent activities, attractiveness of Paralympics, and “My Legacy” that he wants to leave towards Tokyo 2020.
Interview date: July 4th 2020.
About Mr. Hanaoka’s job and activities
While my work is mainly coaching to young Athletes, I also do promotional activities of Paralympics.
Though it is difficult to explain my activities in one word, I have been joining events and symposiums to tell people what Paralympics is, as one of the “activists” who promote Paralympics movement.
What I expect for Tokyo 2020 is to be a chance of expanding our message to many people.
I believe this could be a great start of Para sports promotion.
What I think about postponed Tokyo 2020
I strongly feel that sports are only for the peaceful time.
I believe this postponement would give people a chance to feel “sports can exist without peace.”
I would like to value this entire year.
Paralympics is the world best stage for athletes.
In one word, Paralympics is the world best stage for athletes.
But not only this. As well as attractiveness as sports, Olympics’s objective is supporting healthy development for youth and peace realization, according to Pierre de Coubertin (1863-1937).
I believe Paralympics should also follow that so I would like everyone to watch how Paralympics athletes change and grow through the games.
Previous Paralympics which Mr.Hanaoka experienced
To be honest, the impression I got from Paralympics before 2004 Athens was “no more than school sports day.”
Although the scale was huge, the level of competition and program management was much lower than today.
From Athens2004, however, IOC started joining and the quality became higher in many phases.
Competition level increase was one of the biggest changes since 2004 Athens and another change happened in 2012 London.
Different from Athens and Beijing games, audience in London2012 was those who had high motivation to watch Paralympics and bought their ticket by themselves.
I believe the quality of Paralympics has dramatically increased through London2012 as a standpoint of “sports to watch.”
What I want you to feel through Paralympics
Some says Paralympics is a festival of possibilities but I also think it is a festival of realization.
When you watch some Paralympics programs, you might be surprised with the athletes who realize unbelievable things despite of disabilities.
Paralympics is a stage where you can experience your thoughts flipped upside down.
Athletes who participate Paralympics is working on sports with creativity to realize their change. If you can feel the possibility, you would be able to believe in your own possibilities.
I hope Paralympics to become a chance for people to change the mindset.
Legacy through Tokyo2020
I expect Tokyo2020 to be a good chance for Japan to change better with new mindsets.
Not only athletes but also their family and friends would visit Japan so I would like to receive new insights of how to improve this country or cities from them.
In London 2012, a new town “Olympic Park” was built at East End of London which has historically been the poorest part of the city.
In Tokyo too, I hope some change in hearts happen even if drastic change in hard is difficult.
Oita prefecture annually holds International wheelchair marathon competition which enables for local people to understand better about para sports.
This is a great example that people in Oita have changed their mindset through sports.
“Hard takes a while to be changed but Heart can be changed right away.”
I want TOKYO2020 to be a timing that can change every heart of people in Japan.
TOKYO2020 MY LEGACY
I hope the concept “live with consideration of others next to you”will become a standard of all over the world.
Though I hear a word “inclusive society” a lot these days but I personaly do not use this word.
This is because I believe human beings are originally to prosper by all living together.
Recent technologies, however, might obstruct people from helping each other.
I believe that the “sports” have a power for people to feel such preciousness.
The stage of Olympics and Paralympics Games which tell you that what you cannot do alone can be done with people helping each other, I think, have a chance for us to re-consider society itself towards the truest “inclusiveness.”
I would like to leave a future that people all over the world live to care about others’ happiness.
What is important: seeding for heart
The most important thing in achieving Legacy is heart.
My activities takes time to bear fruits. 50 years, perhaps, it may take 100 years.
It may be difficult for me to witness Legacy of mine while I live, but the seeding can be done while I am here.
I would like to continue my activities for TOKYO2020 and beyond.
July 4th 2020 text and images are by Tanaka
Translated by Mina Fukasawa