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Lawmakers Meet With Officials From Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, Olympic Town Host Program

Virgin Islands officials, V.I. Olympic Committee meet with Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympic Games representatives, July 2019 (Photo by Barry Leerdam, Legislature of the Virgin Islands)

Senate Vice President Myron D. Jackson, chairperson of the Committee on Culture, Historic Preservation and Aging hosted a meeting in collaboration with the Committee on Sports, Parks and Recreation with representatives from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games on Friday at the Capitol Building. The purpose was to meet with visiting Japanese and Virgin Islands Olympic officials to consider the participation of the U.S. Virgin Islands in next year’s Tokyo Olympics, the Paralympic Games and the Olympic Town Host Program.

The Host Town Initiative seeks to build and strengthen relationships with local Japanese towns and countries or regions partaking in the 2020 Tokyo Games. Additionally, the national teams have an opportunity to promote and publicize their countries. If the USVI participates, then qualified athletes will have an opportunity to visit, explore and participate in activities in Ojiya City in Japan, according to Toshihiro Hayashi, assistant director for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games Secretariat of the Headquarters.

Ojiya City is two hours by train from Tokyo and is shaped by the longest river of Japan. It is known for its colored carp, bull fighting, textiles, festivals, sacred music, dance and fireworks.

Representatives from the Virgin Islands and Japan meet about Tokyo 2020 Olympics (Photo by Barry Leerdam, Legislature of the Virgin Islands)

“Forging new relationships can occur within the structure and outside of the structure of sports. For example, residents of the Host Town will have tourism opportunities for an even exchange of cultural roots such as interactions between jazz musicians from each country,” Sen. Jackson said of the potential partnership. “This is a really appropriate host town. I’m excited.”

Hayashi stated that the exchange aids in maximizing the performance of the athletes during the competition. Hayashi explained the details of the exchanges with athletes through the Host Town initiative for the Tokyo 2020 Games. Participants will attend sports workshops and cultural events, interact with residents and students from several schools, eat local foods and dishes, and enjoy casual interactions with each other after the games.

The host program entails inviting guests from counterpart countries, learning the history of the country, exchanging among students, and participating in festivals and events. The Virgin Islands Olympic Committee has the power to formalize the territory’s participation in the Olympic Town Host Program by signing an agreement.

Also attending the meeting were Keeichi Tada, senior policy coordinator, secretariat of the Headquarters for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games; Yuko Yoshizawa, interpreter; Angel Morales, president of the Virgin Islands Olympic Committee; Sen. Janelle K. Sarauw; and Jose Lettsome, chief of staff for Sen. Dwayne DeGraff.

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