The government on Wednesday held its first meeting with leaders of local governments which will host exchanges between residents and athletes of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics as it aims to improve hospitality in the communities.
“We would like to deepen cooperation among local governments registered as host towns and build momentum throughout the country for the success of the games,” said Shunichi Suzuki, minister in charge of the games.
Ofunato, Iwate Prefecture, which was heavily damaged by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster, is registered as a special type of host town along with other disaster-stricken municipalities from Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures.
This type of host town will organize exchanges between residents and people who contributed to the reconstruction of the disaster-hit area or who sent relief supplies. A tour of the devastated area will also be organized.
Ofunato has had exchanges with the United States since the U.S. dispatched a rescue crew to the city. Ofunato also plans to cooperate with Sakura, Chiba Prefecture, which will host a pre-games training camp for American athletes taking part in athletics events.
Masato Shinagawa, the mayor of Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture, said he found Wednesday’s meeting “insightful.”
“We would like to steer activities toward the Olympics and make them a driving force for reconstruction (efforts),” he said.