Athletes Village Opens in Sweltering Heat
Ribbon Cutting Ceremony in front of the Village
Under a mid-summer's blue sky which brought dragonflies skimming the spaces between legs and had the more than 350 observers fanning themselves vigorously with their handout packets or trying to find relief in whatever shade they could, preliminaries to Universiade Fukuoka '95 began with the opening of the Athletes Village in Marina Town (Atago, Nishiku ).
A line of local dignitaries, including the mayors of Fukuoka, Munakata and Kasuga Cities cut a red and white (for "Good Luck") ribbon with quiet gravity in front of the tent-like Gate #1 while a knot of well-wishers, corporate representatives and media looked on.
Retiring to the green Flag Plaza bordered with cypress trees and blossoming monkey's paw, the audience then watched as Kiichiro Nakamuta, the Mayor of the Athletes Village, declared the village officially open as behind him and an elegant black and orange arch entitled Yume no tsunagaru, or Bridge of Dreams, the Boy Scouts raised the flags of the up to 160 participating nations and regions.
Members of the newly arrived Great Britain delegation, one of the first groups to arrive along with the Canadian and Mexican delegations, seemed favorably impressed. "This Universiade seems very well organized," said one, and Roch Campana, Secretary General of the International University Sports Federation (FISU), sponsor of the Universiade said, "I was very impressed by the dignity of the ceremony and the gestures Fukuoka has made to bring many not so rich nations together." He added that the village was "very nice."
Still, it was probably the Master of Ceremonies, Yoshino Shiraishi, who summed things up most succinctly. "Too hot," she said, before moving on to the air-conditioned cafeteria.
Performance Highlight of the Day
Of the many important contributions made by people at the village opening on August 16th, one of most outstanding came from the Fukuoka Boy Scouts. Their main job is to march to the flag stands with the neatly folded flags of the many nations in their hands, raise them with quiet dignity, and then lower them.
At the opening ceremony, they raised all the flags at once, but starting tomorrow only the flags of newly-arrived countries will be raised four times a day as each group comes in.
The Boy Scouts range from fifth graders to college students, including, interestingly, several female university students. The chief of the scouts, Mr. Taneaki Chiba says (IR(BOur boys performed perfectly well, despite their having practiced only twice today. It shows how well-trained they are. They practice regularly. I(IU(Bm very pleased.(IS(B Undoubtedly it was the boys themselves who were the most pleased.
MC Expresses Relief
Master of Ceremony,Ms.Shiraishi
"Oh, dear! I'm so relieved nothing bad happened and the weather was completely different from yesterday(IU(Bs. It was really hot." These were the first comments from Ms.Yoshino Shiraishi, the Master of Ceremonies at the village opening ceremony. The weather had been terrible the day before. Typhoon-strength winds had caused the Shinkansen (Bullet) trains to be stopped.
It was a great honor for Ms. Shiraishi to be chosen MC for this kind of event, and as MC she had to keep her eyes on everything if it was going to finish on schedule.
"Frankly, I was concerned that all the 160 participants' national flags would not rise smoothly within the 45 minutes given to the Brass Band."
Because the skies were clear and sunny and the Brass Band and Boy Scouts performed well, she felt quite happy with the results of the ceremony. And her beautiful smile showed her satisfaction.
And the Band Played on...
With band members scattered throughout the city, conductor Terushi Koga explained that finding places and time to practice was no simple matter. But perseverance paid off and Wednesday's performance injected some "oompah" into the village Opening Ceremony.
The Japan Experrience
Greeting from Mayor Kuwahara
(excerpts from the opening address)
First, let me express my heartiest welcome to all of you who have taken valuable time from your very busy schedules to attend this opening ceremony. On behalf of the organizers, I would also like to express my deepest appreciation to all of you for your kind support and cooperation.
Indeed, because the Athletes Village provides convenient access to the many competition venues, I firmly believe that everyone(IU(Bs stay in the village will be memorable, both for athletes and officials.
Furthermore, as a variety of cultural events will be held in the Event Plaza-and they are open to all- hope that many of the city(IU(Bs residents, the athletes and officials will find opportunities to communicate with each other, thereby deepening their mutual understandings as they widen their circles of international exchange.
Finally, I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation to all of you here and everywhere who have supported this great sporting event. Thank you.
Program Schedule for Aug 18 thru 22nd
Tea Ceremony: Aug 19 (Sat) 14:00~18:00, Tea Ceremony Room
Flower Arranging: Aug 22 (Tue) 15:00~17:00, Cultural Exchange Room 1F-A
Japanese-style Calligraphy: Aug 20, 21 (Sun & Mon) 18:00~20:00, Cultural Exchange Room 1F-A
The Fujiyama (make your own T-shirt): Aug 21, 22 (Mon & Tue) 18:00~20:00, Cultural Exchange Room 1F-B
A "New You" Corner: (wear a kimono and have your photo taken), Aug 21 ~Aug 31, 16:00~20:00, Cultural Exchange Room 2F-C
Origami (paper-folding know-how): Aug 18~Sept 2, 14:00 ~21:00 Cultural Exchange Program Information Center.
British Delegation Copes With Heat and Jet Lag
"Getting acclimated to Japan will take us 12 days," says British Chef de Mission Ian Armiger. Jet lag will pass in a few days, but due to the hot weather Armiger says his players will have to be especially careful about fluid intake. "We have to drink three times as much water as we would in Britain - 15 liters a day," Armiger reports. For the mathematically minded this means about one glass of water every 15 minutes from morning to bedtime. While the humid weather poses difficulties for his players, Armiger looks on the bright side and says it will be good training for next year(IU(Bs Olympic games in muggy Atlanta.
What was Armiger(IU(Bs first impression of Japan? Having spent two days in Kobe, he says he was surprised at the extent of the damage that still exists there after January(IU(Bs earthquake.
Mexican Baseball Team Happy With Fukuoka
"Fukuoka is O.K.-beautiful," says Sergio Robles, manager of the Mexican baseball team. The hot and humid Fukuoka weather is no problem for his team, Robles says, in fact, it(IU(Bs a welcome relief from the drizzle and cold of Mexico City.
As for Fukuoka itself, the Mexican team may find Kyushu(IU(Bs largest city to be a bit of a small town. Mexico City has 20 million residents. But however the two cities compare, Robles anticipates no problems in getting acclimated to Japan and is already looking forward to playing against Korea on August 26th. "We have a good team, good pitchers especially," he said with confidence.
Although the Mexican team hadn(IU(Bt yet settled into its accomodations on Wednesday afternoon, they were impressed with how well organized the Universiade staff was and grateful for the generous portions of Western style food in the Village Restaurant. "The food is good and expensive," grinned Robles between bites of a large steak.
Village Restaurant Gets Thumbs-Up!
Early days yet, but first reports give the village restaurant unqualified approval with one gymnast 'veteran'(Fukuoka will be her third Universiade) pronouncing it 'the best yet'.
Experience has obviously paid off for Captain Cook, the catering company which handled the Kobe Universiade in '85-athletes gave high marks across the board, not just for the food but also for cleanliness and the restaurant's bright and airy atmosphere.
The athletes' punishing training schedules mean that they need to consume three times the average number of calories, which doesn't look like it will be a problem, given the variety and plentiful servings. In fact, coaches expressed concern about possible unwanted weight gain, because of the sheer volume of food available.The flip side, of course, is that the heat and humidity (not to mention jet-lag) may cause a loss of appetite, but coaches seem to have all bases covered. Also, electrolyte drinks on tap allayed medical staffs(IU(B fears of possible dehydration; the athletes will have to increase their intake of liquids by two to three times during the games.
A lot of advance planning has gone into catering to special needs. Halal meat has been specially brought over from Australia, while for vegetarians there is a minimum of three cooked vegetables to choose from daily and a varied salad bar (all fruit and vegetables replaced four times a day) for those who don't want to wait in line.
The restaurant staff seem to be very willing to listen to suggestions. When possible, cheese will be included in the salad bar-which should mean that vegetarians won't have to queue. Unfortunately, cold meats and tofu (beancurd) will not be available, because, according to executive chef, Shuichi Nishimura, it is too hot to leave them lying around.
And last, but not least: Hakata ramen (noodles in pork broth) seems to be a big hit with some of the Mexican team. Said one player, "I love ramen. In Mexico, I eat Japanese food all the time!".