2004 Olympic hammer champion Koji Murofushi has been appointed Sports Director of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. The Japanese throwing legend and IAAF Ambassador offers his take on why the Games, which kick off five years today (July 24), will be a rip-roaring success.
1. Passionate sports fans
Koji Murofushi is confident that the Japanese people will fully embrace the Olympic Games; he saw with his own eyes their passion at the open top bus parade given to Japan’s London 2012 medal heroes.
“More than 500,000 people came out to celebrate to watch the parade in the centre of Tokyo” explains Murofushi. “I was on the top of the bus and there were people hanging out of windows wanting to watch, construction workers waving. It was an unbelievable experience.
“The Japanese sometimes have a reputation for hiding their emotions but this convinced me that once the momentum starts to build for Tokyo 2020, the fans will really turn it on.”
2. Tokyo 2020 organising committee
Behind any great Olympic games there is a great organising committee – think LOCOG 2012 for the London Games and SOCOG 2000 for the Sydney Olympics. Not unsurprisingly, Murofushi believes the local organisers for Tokyo 2020 are also a fantastic team who will deliver an awe-inspiring games.
“We already have 350 staff working for Tokyo 2020 and by the time of the Games it will grow to 7,000,” he adds. “The organisation is unique with the support of the [national] government and Tokyo Metropolitan Government. It is a united team who are great at sharing ideas.”
The LOC will deliver on time, just like a Japanese bullet train
3. Great sports organisation tradition
From the 1964 Olympic games – also staged in Tokyo – to co-hosting the 2002 FIFA World Cup with South Korea, Japan has a proud reputation for staging monster sporting events. One of only three countries in the history of the IAAF World Athletics Championships to have hosted the event twice (Tokyo 1991 and Osaka 2007) Tokyo 2020 will not be beyond them.
“The organisers at every turn will try to deliver on time,” says Murofushi. “The same as the Tokyo bullet train.”
4. The athletes’ games
In Murofushi’s role as sports director of Tokyo 2020 he acts as a liaison with the athletes and he promises the best experience possible for Olympians and Paralympians during the games.
“It is the small things, but sometimes they make a big difference,” says Murofushi, the 2011 world hammer champion. “We are looking at the height of the laundry room in the athletes’ village, because if it is too high athletes cannot reach. We are looking into the size of the elevator to allow for easy access for wheelchairs. The little things can add to the experience.
“My goal and job is to make the best stage for the athletes, which will hopefully allow them to make personal bests and go home happy.”
5. Long lasting legacy
Murofushi is confident the games can provide a long lasting legacy for sport with athletics being a beneficiary.
“The 1964 Olympics had a real legacy with facilities from those games still being used today,” he explains. “Hopefully one of the legacies for athletics [post 2020] is for Japan to keep doing an annual international meet out of the stadium.”
And on that note, we’re off to the London Olympic Stadium for the Anniversary Games tonight and tomorrow.