Guyana commits to cultural exchange at Tokyo Olympics

Minister of Social Cohesion, Dr. George Norton, has signalled Guyana’s intention to participate in a cultural exchange component of the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.

Minister Norton, accompanied by Permanent Secretary, Melissa Tucker, and Assistant Director of Sport, Melissa Dow-Richardson, met with officials of the Secretariat of the Headquarters for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, earlier in the week.

The meeting, held in Minister Norton’s Georgetown office, discussed the Host Town Initiative and the possibility of Guyana participating in the post-Olympic activity being introduced by Japan.

According to Assistant Director of the Tokyo Olympic Secretariat, Toshihiro Hayashi, the Host Town Initiative seeks to capitalise on the influx of hundreds of countries, as a means of exposing the Japanese people to various cultures that exist across the world.

Of the 207 countries participating in next year’s Olympics, some 135 have already committed to the cultural exchange, which will commence the week following the games.

Minister Norton believes that the initiative will be mutually beneficial, and promised to do all that he can to facilitate the participation of Guyanese athletes. The Host Town Initiative is being fully funded by the Local Government bodies of Japan.

Should the Guyana delegation choose to stay on for the post-Olympic exchange, those athletes would be afforded the opportunity to engage the people residing in Date City, Japan.

In addition to attending sports workshops and visiting schools and other public places to interact with students and residents, the athletes will also be afforded the opportunity to experience all that Date City has to offer – including its unique sceneries and cuisine.

Participants will also have the opportunity to learn the country’s history and be part of its festivals being hosted during that period.

At 102.36 square miles, Date City has an estimated population of 61,207 in 22,590 households.

Guyana and Japan are expected to have a year of information exchanges, in preparation for the Host Town Initiative. The exchanges will commence from August 2019.

The Assistant Director of Sport is confident of the ability of the Guyanese contingent to adequately showcase Guyana’s culture on an international stage.

“As athletes, you are trained to not only shine on field, but to also be Ambassadors for your country. I am certain that our athletes are capable of showcasing Guyana, culturally,” Dow-Richardson said.

Also attending the meeting were Keeichi Tada, Senior Policy Coordinator attached to the Secretariat of the Headquarters for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, along with Foreign Service Officer of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Royston Alkins.

In wrapping up the engagement, the visiting team also expressed gratitude for the assistance Guyana provided during the devastating earthquake that hit Japan in 2011.