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Kosei Inoue: Judo and Expanding Inclusivity in the World of Sports

One of the most attractive features of the Asian Games was the diversity of events, from traditional sports like judo to new categories like urban and e-sports.

Greetings, fellow readers of JAPAN Forward and friends of judo.

We have a bit more than one month left before the year 2023 will be over. In Japan, where I live, it is becoming colder by the day. How are things where you live?

This month, I would like to look back and report on the Asian Games that took place in Hangzhou, China from September 19 to October 8. 

The Asian Games are a large, international multi-sport sports event staged every four years by the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA). They have come to be known as "Asia's version of the Olympics." 

This year's competition was postponed for one year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Athletes from 45 countries and regions participated in 481 events in 40 competition categories.

I attended the games as one of the deputy leaders of the Japanese delegation. Each day I visited various competition venues to cheer for the Japanese team. Every event I attended showcased intense competition and athletic skills, reconfirming my belief in how wonderful sports can be. 

The games also provided me with a great opportunity to be exposed to the latest digital technology. I was impressed with the efficient operation of the sports venue and learned a lot about the overall management of such major sports events.

I stopped to watch some of the swimming events at the Asian Games and cheer on the swimmers. (©Kosei Inoue)

Defining Sports Inclusively

Overall the Asian Games gave me a strong impression that the definition of the sport is expanding. The Asian Games have blazed a new trail by featuring competitions in sports that originated in Asia, such as kabaddi and sepak takraw. As well, they featured so-called "mind sports" such as go (weiqi) and chess, which are not included in the Olympic Games. 

The diversity of events is one of the most attractive features of the Asian Games. And this year for the first time, esports events were also included. The number of esports enthusiasts has exploded in recent years, and now esports has finally joined the Asian Games as a competitive sport.

As with esports, "urban sports" such as BMX (bicycle motocross), climbing, and skateboarding have become very popular in recent years. I have the impression that they have already established themselves as Olympic sports. Thus, the variety of competitive sports continues to grow and their definitions continue to expand.

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Ryoma Tanaka (right) faces Mongolia's Baskhuu Yondonperenlei in the men's 66-kg division final at the Asian Games on September 24. (©Kyodo)
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Japan's Natsumi Tsunoda faces Kazakhstan's Abiba Abuzhakynova in the women's 48-kg division final at the Asian Games on September 24 (©Kyodo)

Moving Hearts and Minds

On the other hand, I got the impression that in one sense things have not changed. While competing, athletes of course gave their all. But observing the way in which they praised one another after the matches, regardless of whether they had won or lost, I felt that they showed a beautiful quality that human beings have displayed through the ages.

Multi-sports competitions like the Asian Games show us the good side of human nature through a variety of events. Come to think of it, I can't point to any other kind of event that transcends nationality, language, culture, and religion, yet is capable of moving the hearts and minds of people the way such sporting events do.

That's why I think sports are necessary. Furthermore, I would like to work to make them even more worthwhile and attractive.

We conducted the International Judo Coaching Seminar for the first time in four years. This is a commemorative photo of the instructors who participated. Shown sixth from the left is the general coordinator and veteran international instructor Kenji Mitsumoto, a 7th dan (degree) black belt, who provided practical instruction. (©NPO JUDOs/Kosei Inoue)

Take a Food Journey Around the World!

International Judo Coaching Seminar: Building Ties of Friendship

Two days after the curtain fell on the Asian Games, seven coaches from six countries from around the world set foot on Japanese soil. They arrived to participate in the International Judo Coaching Seminar organized by JUDOs, the NPO where I serve as president. 

Due to COVID-19, the seminar had not been held for four years. But it was revived with the participation of these seven judoka in an in-depth seminar that lasted for nearly one month from October 10 to November 6. Ties of friendship and peace were built during that roughly one month. 

The objectives of the seminar went beyond learning techniques for teaching judo. We wanted to provide the participants with an opportunity to foster through judo the kind of friendship that transcends differences in nationality, race, language, religion, and so on. At the same time, we wanted them to experience the history and culture of Japan, the birthplace of judo.

The participants in this seminar came from varied backgrounds. Some had participated in the Olympics, while some had evacuated to Germany from Ukraine. These people lived and shared meals together for the full period they were learning judo instruction techniques. 

The schedule was tight, but it was heartwarming to see how diligently these lovers of judo devoted themselves to mastering each element of the program.

Even with limited funds, our staff was determined to make the program as fulfilling and enjoyable for the participants as possible. Putting our heads together, we came up with an inventive program.

Our thanks go out to everyone who supported the objectives of this seminar and contributed to its success. 

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Learn more about Certified NPO JUDOs and how to support or become involved in the sport of judo on the Certified NPO JUDOs homepage.

judo Kosei Inoue
Kosei Inoue, President, Certified NPO JUDOs
judo Kosei Inoue
井上康生 理事長, 認定NPO法人 JUDOs

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