"Impression is coming to Kobe" Interview with Chairman Akemi Masuda 1 year ago

* Information at the time of publication (2021.8.25).

● Interview video of Chairman Akemi Masuda (14:06)
It is less than a year before the Kobe Para World Athletics Championships, which will start on August 26, 2022. The Tokyo Paralympics also started on the 24th, and attention to parasports is increasing. What will TOKYO bring to bloom in Kobe and send it to the future? We asked Akemi Masuda, the chairman of the Games Organizing Committee, about his thoughts.


-It's been less than a year until the "Kobe 2022 World Para Athletics Championships". Please tell us your feelings as the chairman of the Japan Para Athletics Federation and the chairman of the Games Organizing Committee.

Masuda: Right now, it's exciting at the Tokyo Paralympics. childI would like to welcome the Kobe tournament with the same momentum in response to the wind. In principle, there are no spectators now, but one year later, when the event is held in Kobe, the corona will converge, the spectators will enter, and the children will be watching in the front row of the stand. I want to get more excited.

-What was the reason for your relationship with Mr. Masuda and Parasports?

Since I was a player, I ran once a week with people with autism and people with intellectual disabilities. But as for parasports, coverage after retirement has begun. When I was interviewing Olympic athletes' training camp in Hokkaido, Para athletes were also practicing at the stadium. Wheelchair players are practicing on the riverbed, and everyone is very bright and interesting. While listening to various stories, I was drawn to the charm.

The wheelchair has a great speed, and its power and the sense of unity between the athlete and the wheelchair are wonderful. The prosthesis player is not odd in how to train the remaining functions, and is cool as a player.

-Mr. Masuda is also an athlete, so you may have understood the feelings of all of them more than anyone else.

Masuda In that sense, Para's strength is stronger than that of a former player. Everyone has an accident or a congenital illness, and they are athletes who have overcome it, so they have crossed a mountain before standing on the starting line.

-You are aiming for heights overcoming difficulties.

Masuda: It's not uncommon for Olympic athletes to learn from the behavior of Para athletes. Ryota Yamagata, who holds the Japanese record of 100m 9.95 and also participated in the Tokyo Olympics, has a classmate of the same university, Hayao Takakuwa, who is a long jump women, and the coach, Mr. Takano, is also the same. So, Mr. Yamagata says, "I often learn from how to move Takakuwa's body (trying to make full use of a certain function)."

-You are aiming for the top and top of the world by inspiring each other. In that sense, the environment surrounding parasports, including para-athletics, has changed significantly over the last 10 to 20 years.

Masuda: That's true, originally, parasports started from the rehabilitation of people with disabilities. It became a sport to enjoy and a sport to compete with. And now, I'm at the stage where many people are encouraged by seeing how they work hard as athletes.

-What is the appeal of parasports to Mr. Masuda?

Masuda: The appeal is that wheelchair players have a sense of unity with wheelchairs, so I'm working hard as a team with engineers. In addition, the prosthetists and prosthetics have cooperation with prosthetics and orthotics, and the visually impaired athletes are a three-legged race with a companion.

Shigekazu Omori, who is visually impaired and is accompanied by Chiaki Takada, who also participated in the Tokyo Paralympic Women's Long Jump, is the one who won the 5th place in the 1600m relay of the Atlanta Olympics. It is exactly "Oripara".In addition, Mr. Tsutomu Nagata, a marathon of upper limb paralysis, is getting stronger and stronger while holding a training camp with the players of the Japanese business team. Everyone is a team.

-There is no barrier between the athletes of the Olympic and Paralympic athletes.

Masuda: It's great that we can grow together, and we're walking while fostering relationships of trust. Tears often spill over the depth of the bond, such as when the legs of a visually impaired athlete and a companion are synchronized.

-It's only one year before the tournament. What kind of tournament are you planning to aim for?

Masuda Kobe is a port city, and it's a city that has incorporated various things. Players from all over the world gather in such a culture that is open to the outside. Therefore, I would like to make the tournament stress-free for the players.

After all, players still sometimes say, "I get tired by the time I go to the stadium." Especially if the city is not barrier-free. However, Kobe is becoming more barrier-free, and I would like to make it a tournament where the athletes who come to the Universiade Memorial Stadium can perform at their best.

-It seems that Mr. Masuda and Kobe have a deep relationship.

Masuda Kobe is a city with a lot of love. First of all, my debut match was in Kobe. It's been a long time ago 40 years ago (laughs), but when I was in the third year of high school, I participated in the Hyogo Relay Carnival. At that time, it was a prince's track and field stadium. I made a 5000m Japanese record over there. Be more than one lap behind the second-placed player. Then that became the front page of the Kobe Shimbun. "A great player has appeared."So I can't forget the taste of shabu-shabu that I ate for the first time after the game. was delicious. I remember going to see the Former Thomas House for a while.

By the way, my first date with my husband also came to Kobe. Walk along Ijinkan-dori. I'm really happy that the World Para will be held in such a favorite city of Kobe.

-And what will be taken over from the Tokyo Paralympics that are currently being held, and what will be connected after the Kobe Para Athletics Tournament. What do you think of the legacy of the Kobe tournament as chairman?

Masuda This tournament is held in Kobe, a city that has accepted diversity. Some are wheelchair players, some are prostheses, some are prostheses, and some are visually impaired. Looking at the wonderful performances of such players, I hope that they will feel that "everyone is different and everyone is good" and that we will be able to accept diversity even more.

-Finally, do you have a message for the people of Kobe?

Masuda Let's get well by supporting the athletes together at the World Para Athletics Championships held in Kobe.

-thank you very much.

<Profile of Akemi Masuda>
Japan representative for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics Women's Marathon. Currently, he is active as a sports journalist in writing activities and commentary on marathon broadcasts. He is deeply involved in parasports and is also the chairman of the Japan Para Athletics Federation.

Broadcast / Radio Kansai "PUSH!" August 31, 2021 OA
Interviewer / Shinichiro Hayashi

* The posted information is as of August 25, 2021.