How "recovery Olympics" appeared to world: reported by Fukushima-tied groups abroad

How did Fukushima and Japan appear to the rest of the world on the occasion of the Tokyo Olympics, held under the banner of symbolizing efforts for recovery and reconstruction from the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disasters? Here are reports on the topic that have arrived from three overseas associations of people with links to Fukushima Prefecture -- London Shakunage Kai in Britain, Brazil Fukushima Kenjinkai (prefectural people's association) in Brazil and Bangkok Fukushima Momo no Kai in Thailand -- with the cooperation of the World Fukushima Kenjinkai. Low recognition of Fukushima's name: Brazil The Brazil Fukushima Kenjinkai distributed questionnaires to survey local people about the awareness of "the recovery and reconstruction Games." Only about 20% of the respondents knew that some Olympic events had been held in Fukushima Prefecture, while about 80% did not. Of those who knew the prefecture hosted the competitions, more than half said the fact that "the disaster-hit region is safe was conveyed (to them) through news." As for the baseball and softball games held in the prefecture, however, none of the respondents said they "heard or saw them in news reports." Asked if they understood the concept of "the recovery and reconstruction Games," some 70% said they "felt the resolve of people in disaster-hit areas for reconstruction." There was a comment saying the respondent "visited Fukushima after the Great East Japan Earthquake but there was nothing to worry about." Around 20% said it "would have been good if they had experienced the disaster-struck region through a virtual tour or some other means." A little more than 40% said they were against or felt uneasy about staging the Olympics even as cases of coronavirus infection were spreading, almost equaling the percentage who had earlier thought the Olympics "would be held safely because of thorough precautions against infections." Many respondents said they felt they were "sad to see empty seats at stadiums." The questionnaires were conducted on the internet and 75 people replied, including 49 Brazilians, 20 who hailed from or have connections with Fukushima Prefecture, and six Japanese-Brazilians. "We did not witness the kind of excitement we have had at soccer World Cups, but it looked like the opening and closing ceremonies must have wowed people in Brazil and evoked respect among them for Japan," the association said. "It provided us with an opportunity to forget about the sad series of events brought about by the coronavirus pandemic." (By Takiuchi Ito Adriana, first vice president of Brazil Fukushima Kenjinkai who has a link to Iwaki city) Delighted at praise heaped on peaches: Thailand First came the memorable first Olympic competitions in our hometown, Fukushima Prefecture, and then a record haul of medals won by Japanese athletes throughout the Games! We were encouraged by all the wonderful news that arrived day after day. But personally, the most delightful piece of news was about the Fukushima peaches. I was filled with a sense of pride when I came across an internet newspaper article that the manager of the U.S. softball team and other team members heaped praise on the local peaches they had while staying in Fukushima, saying "excellent by far," and that they enjoyed eating quite a lot. There is no other fruit as tasty as something like this as far as I can say. Rice, vegetables, fish and sake in Fukushima are also among the best. There still seem to remain some countries believing in unfounded rumors, but I pray that the day will come when people around the world smack their lips on the amazing food in Fukushima. (By Takashi Ishikawa, president of Bangkok Fukushima Momo no Kai who hails from Hanawa town) Impressions on Games turn better: Britain It seemed negative news, about the coronavirus in particular, prevailed in Britain in the run-up to the Tokyo Olympics, but TV networks and newspapers alike reported the opening ceremony favorably with such appraisals as "beautiful even without spectators" and "clever and fine." A few days after the Games kicked off, Prime Minister Boris Johnson posted on his Twitter account some comments by British athletes, who appeared satisfied with the athletes' village, calling it amazing, and commending the availability of a wide array of dishes there. And Sara Parfett, a member of the country's female rowing team, posted on her Instagram account photos showing the Olympic village's "snazzy" buildings and amazing outer appearances as well as fabulous night streets accented by beautiful streetscapes and fountains. These certainly suggested, unlike before the opening of the Games, that impressions of the Games were turning for the better. The BBC's daily coverage of the Games, especially events in which good performances by British athletes were expected, seemed to have made for the creation of a festive atmosphere that gradually encompassed London's streets. The mood was energized when athletes from the country won medals and a great number of people enjoyed watching them on giant screens set up at shopping malls and on streets in London, where the latest lockdown had just been lifted. Britain placed fourth after the United States, China and Russia in the final standings in terms of the total number of medals -- good enough results for citizens to talk up as a favorable topic even though the number of gold medals was fewer than those won by Japan. The closing ceremony was broadcast live by the BBC with in-depth commentaries on Japan's efforts and accomplishments regarding the Olympics, which were engulfed by the COVID-19 pandemic and various other problems. There were pros and cons about the Tokyo Games, which have now drawn to a close without major disruption, and it is possible to say Japan was instrumental in adding a new page to Olympic history. (By Yoshio Mitsuyama, president of London Shakunage Kai and a native of Shirakawa city's Taishin district) (Translated by Kyodo News)

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