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Japan’s Olympic Team Gets a Royal Send Off

Japan will be sending a team of 339 athletes to the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing which will be captained by Keiji Suzuki, the 2004 Athens Olympic Judo gold medalist.  Ai Fukuhara, a petite table tennis star has the honor of bearing the Japanese Flag, also knows as the Hinomaru, at the games.

At a traditional sendoff ceremony and gala party held for Japan’s Olympic Team last Monday, Crown Prince Naruhito, a member of the Japanese royal family and next in line to become the Emperor of Japan, passed on some words of encouragement to the athletes:

“At such a memorable event, I hope for everyone to deepen friendly ties through sports by competing with strong rivals from around the world, I entreat all of the athletes to prepare yourselves well and bring out all that you have built up in training to the fields of competition.”

In the Ginza area of Tokyo, Matsuya, a local department store, has teamed up with Swiss watchmaker Omega, the Games’ official timekeeper, to present an more high tech send off for the athletes.  An impressive illumination of Olympic athletes sprinting across the face of the Matsuya building can be seen between 6PM and midnight through August 24th, the last day of the Olympics in Beijing. 

Photo Credit: Personal Collection