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Paralympic Sports Organizations Join Hands with University Sports Papers to Launch New Project

The Nippon Foundation Paralympic Support Center launched a project to provide public relations support for Paralympic events. Its aim is to strengthen the foundation of activities by Paralympic sports organizations. Under this project, student reporters from university sports newspapers will be dispatched to Paralympic sports organizations as public relations interns. A kickoff meeting was held on May 15 in which students and sports organizations met for the first time.

Osamu Kotaki represented sports organizations in his address

Bringing Young Blood to Sports Organizations

The key to packing all the sports arenas with spectators at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics will be the PR activities carried out by each Paralympic sports organization. Osamu Kotaki, who gave an address as representative of the sports organizations present, said, “Just any kind of PR will not be enough to gather attention. It will not be easy to achieve full-houses at the Tokyo Games as is.” He said, calling for cooperation, “Various organizations are providing opportunities for people to experience their sport. However, more PR activities with different approaches are required. I believe that we need to engage more seriously in efforts to gain the attention and understanding of as many Japanese people as possible, while getting youthful energy from you. I look forward to your cooperation.”

In response to this, Rentaro Takahashi of the Keio Sports Shimbun Kai expressed his determination on behalf of other student reporters. He said, “When I first relayed the message about this project to other members of the Shimbun Kai, we talked about what a great opportunity this was to be able to cover stories about athletes competing around the world. I think this experience will benefit us greatly. I also hope that it will lead to something in our future lives. I want to give all in participating in this project.”

Sixty-one Student Reporters to Support 12 Sports Organizations in Phase I

Sixty-one students from the university sports papers of four universities (Keio University, Hosei University, Rikkyo University and Waseda University) will be participating in this project. They will be split between 12 sports organizations to take part in their PR activities.

Nao Ozawa, Executive Director of The Nippon Foundation Paralympic Support Center , spoke of his personal experiences through sports. He said, “I’ve been a big fan of baseball from a young age, and I used to play baseball even as a university student.” He added, welcoming the student interns, “I would like you to first experience the appeal of para-sports by seeing the competitions. Then, to write about it just as you felt it. Please experience and enjoy the vigor of para-sports, and communicate it to others around you.”

The visibility of para-sports begins to rise these days since the decision was made to host the Paralympic Games in Tokyo. However, circumstances at Paralympic sports organizations are not favorable for the timely and appropriate communication of information. One of the reasons is a shortage of human resources. This project will support the PR activities of sports organizations using the strengths of student reporters from university sports newspapers. The objective is to create a mechanism for communicating information related to Paralympic sports organizations in an even more appealing manner to as many people as possible in a way that will enable PR to be carried out even more continually. The Nippon Foundation Paralympic Support Center will support the creation of this mechanism by serving as an intermediary between Paralympic sports organizations and university sports newspapers.

University students and sports organizations unite!

Self-introductions and the exchange of opinions were carried out at the first meeting

After the kickoff, Iota-ryoji Tateishi of the Japan Para Table Tennis Association said, “We are going to be working with Waseda Sports. By fortunate coincidence, there is a para table tennis candidate for Rio at Waseda University, so they already knew about the sport. I expect that the appeal of para-sports might spread two or three times as fast through the participation of university students in the PR activities.”

Taiki Haraguchi, a student reporter from Sports Hosei Shimbun Kai who will be in charge of para volleyball, said with a smile on his face, “Our sports coverage normally focuses on semi-hard baseball. It’s a minor sport too, so it has that in common with para-sports, so I sense a feeling of closeness with para volleyball. I’d like to work with others to increase the visibility of the sport.”

As part of the support provided by The Nippon Foundation Paralympic Support Center, a seminar was given after completion of the kickoff. It was to acquaint the PR interns with things to keep in mind when covering para sports events.

■Participating sports organizations
Japan Blind Football Association, Japan Para-Badminton Federation, Japan Wheelchair Fencing Association, Japan Swimming Federation for Persons with an Intellectual Disability, Japanese Para-Swimming Federation, All-Japan Taekwondo Association, Japan Wheelchair Basketball Federation, Japan Blind Marathon Association, Japan Para Table Tennis Association, Japan Wheelchair Curling Association , Japan Para-Volleyball Association and Japan GoalBall Association
■Participating university sports newspapers
Keio Sports Shimbun Kai, Sports Hosei Shimbun Kai, Rikkyo Sports Henshu Bu and Waseda Sports Shimbun Kai

text&photo by Chizuko Totake , Asuka Senaga
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