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Agency helps para

时间:2024-07-26 00:56:35 出处:阅读(143)

Agency helps para-triathletes from Ukraine train in Okinawa

By TAKAAKI FUJINO/ Staff Writer

March 24, 2024 at 07:30 JST

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Photo/IllutrationUkrainian para-triathletes pose for a commemorative photo with elementary school pupils in Motobu, Okinawa Prefecture, on March 1. (Takaaki Fujino)

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MOTOBU, Okinawa Prefecture—The image of a sports stadium filled a projection screen at a gymnasium here, where 170 elementary school pupils had gathered.

“This (photo shows) training in (the biggest) stadium in Kyiv,” said Roman Korol, the 36-year-old coach for the Ukrainian national para-triathlon team. “But now it’s closed because of the war in Ukraine.”

Korol’s presentation to the children at Motobu Elementary School on March 1 was part of the Japan Sports Agency’s program to support athletes from war-torn countries.

The latest visitors from Ukraine under the program were two para-triathletes, coach Korol and a guide for visually impaired athletes.

The Russian invasion has made it difficult for athletes to train in Ukraine, particularly para-athletes, who struggled to book and get to training venues even in times of peace.

The Ukrainian para-triathletes trained with members of the Japanese national team at a camp in Motobu from Feb. 24 through March 5 in preparation for the 2024 Paris Paralympic Games.

The lecture session at the school was aimed at promoting interactions with the local community. The Ukrainians also ate school lunches together with the elementary school pupils.

Vita Oleksiuk, 29, competed in the 2021 Tokyo Paralympics in the visual impairment class.

While living in the Kyiv suburbs, she had to travel about one hour to reach a swimming pool for training. Her practice sessions were also disrupted by air-raid alarms, which forced her to seek shelter.

Oleksiuk said she was grateful for the “big present” from Japan that allowed her to focus on training in the final stretch before the Paris Summer Games.

After the Russian invasion began, some Ukrainian athletes relocated to other countries and have trained at public sports facilities.

But their practice periods can be limited because they must share the facilities with the general public, officials said.

The JSA started the program this fiscal year, which began last April. Its stated goal is to extend support to overseas athletes who lack access to adequate training environments because of conflict or war.

The program covers travel, accommodation and other expenses for the athletes to train in Japan.

A budget of 44 million yen ($300,000) was set aside for the program in fiscal 2023.

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Vita Oleksiuk, left, a para-triathlete on the Ukrainian national team, trains with members of the Japanese national team in Motobu, Okinawa Prefecture, on Feb. 29. (Takaaki Fujino)

Japan had run a public-private partnership project for supporting developing countries through sports before the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games were held in 2021.

Officials suggested a post-Olympic continuation of the effort, and the current assistance program for athletes from war-torn countries emerged.

Ukrainian athletes in judo, fencing, artistic gymnastics and para-badminton have trained in Japan under the program.

“The environment for para-sports has improved in many parts of Japan as a legacy of the Tokyo Games,” said Yuji Kakizawa, director of the JSA International Affairs Division. “We hope to keep providing similar assistance in the years to come.”

JSA officials said the program is expected to continue into fiscal 2024.

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