Welcoming Ceremony at Olympic Village

On 24 July, the Japanese Olympic team was officially welcomed to the Olympic Village in Stratford, London. A lively and theatrical ceremony was held in honour of the Japanese team, alongside the Olympic teams from Finland and Ghana. Around 110 Japanese athletes (mainly from the areas of judo and swimming) and members of staff were in attendance.

The musical-themed ceremony kicked off under a resplendent blue sky, with colourfully dressed performers entering the Village square, singing and dancing to Queen's "I Want to Ride My Bicycle". They were followed by the Olympics teams from the three countries, marching alongside one another.

The ceremony continued on to the raising of the Olympic flag to the music of the Olympic anthem, which was followed by a welcoming speech by Deputy Olympic Village Mayor, Dame Tessa Jowell. Dame Jowell expressed her enthusiasm for the arrival of the athletes at the Olympic Village and in the city, and her hopes that the teams would be able to bring back to their respective countries long lasting memories of the events to come.

The Deputy Village Mayor then invited representatives from each Olympic Team to stand with her on the podium as they watched their national flags being raised to the sound of their national anthems. The representatives were then invited to write a message on the Olympic Truce Wall, which has been erected to reaffirm the commitment to peace of the Olympic Games of ancient Greece, during which all hostilities were suspended. The Japanese Team was represented by Mr. Haruki Uemura (Chef de Mission, Japan Olympic Team), who wrote on the wall, "seiryoku-zenyou jita-kyouei", meaning "use of spiritual and physical strength for good" and "prospering of oneself and others in common". These are the words of Kano Jigoro, the first Asian and Japanese member of the IOC and founder of judo.

After the ceremony, Ambassador Keiichi Hayashi gave a few words of encouragement to the Japanese Olympic team. The Ambassador noted that the participation of the Japanese team at the London Olympics was a historical event, as this will be the first time Japan has taken part in an Olympic Games held in London, despite this being the third time for London to be host city.

The Ambassador expressed his wish that, following the devastating earthquake and tsunami of last year, the Japanese team would be able to show the world a strong and energetic Japan through their moving performances at the Games.