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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Kazuko Ito in Vancouver

This is a rough translation of the blog report made by Kazuko Ito of NPO STAND, who is representing us all at Vancouver.

The Paralympics are on.
I went to the opening ceremonies of the Vancouver Paralympics. I was really glad I came to Vancouver. I saw the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics a month ago, too. Now I think maybe I thought too much about comparing the two. Still, it kind of comes naturally. Look at these tickets. The size is different. The smaller one is for the Paralympics. For what reason, I have to wonder. So as to use less paper? Less printing ink? Or was it to save the environment?

The opening ceremony tickets. The one on the left is for the Paralympics, right is the Winter Olympics.

There was a lot of difference in action on the streets of Vancouver, too. Perhaps because there were fewer visitors. I'd looked forward to the street performers, but there were none. I was left with time on my hands.

But the moment I arrived at the stadium, all was forgotten. I was enthusiastic and excited. The Paralympics were on!

The Opening Ceremonies

The sound of the brass band vibrated against our skin as the IPC flag was raised. The provided the fanfares for the entire ceremony, and they made us feel that we should sit up straight and pay attention.

Raising the IPC flag

The Japanese contingent enters the stadium

Balloons go up and images are projected

Then the eternal flame

The items passed out to the audience lacked the quality of the Olympics, there were empty seats, and not much entertainment . . . I couldn't help thinking there was a huge differences in budgets. Do we dwell on that? Or do we look for something greater? I couldn't make up my mind. What good would it do to compare? Many people gave their best efforts to give us a memorable opening ceremony. It's nonsense to compare. It was a wonderful opening ceremony!

Nevertheless, the entrance of the athletes was the most memorable of all. It started with no warning. We couldn't think about sitting down. The groups of athletes followed one after the other in close formation. Every nation's flag. We stayed on our feet the whole time. In the Winter Olympics, you stand up when your country's athletes enter, then sit back down and don't pay much attention. But at the Paralympics, everyone cheers for every athlete. When the athletes entered the stadium, it was as if everyone in the house was applauding their entrance. It was an experience the Olympics could not produce. It was fantastic. I was totally satisfied. I and everyone else was filled with a warm feeling, and the Paralympic fever caught on.

One more thing. A wonderful thing happened. Quite by accident, I met one of the Japanese residents of Vancouver. Her name was Ms. Shima.

With Ms. Shima

They organized a cheering section on their own and came out to meet us. She was the head of a cheering section of about 30 people. Their children made about 1,000 Japanese flags. They even proposed the toast (kanpai!) at the Japanese consulate reception. These wonderful people, who live so far away, came to join us, to cheer us, to watch our athletes in action. Look at their twitter tweets.

Today our ice sledge hockey team won their game with Czech.

I saw our photographer, Mr. Shimizu, who will be putting photos on our blog at Challenger TV. Have a look.

Until next time.

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