Gold Medallist Olympic Swimming Stars Back TOKYO 2016
Champions Want TOKYO 2016 to Inspire Future Generations
Two of the world's leading swimmers today backed Tokyo's Bid to host the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Reigning Olympic champions, Kosuke Kitajima and Ai Shibata, announced their full support for Japan's Bid to host
the 2016 Games as they secured their places at Beijing 2008 through the 'JAPAN SWIM 2008' national team trials.
Tokyo-born sprint star, Kitajima, won two golds at the Athens Olympic Games in 2004, in the men's 100m and 200m
breaststroke, and Shibata, a longer distance expert, won the women's 800m freestyle race in Athens, the spiritual home of the Olympiad, the first Japanese female freestyle swimmer to win Olympic gold.
Dr Ichiro Kono, Chairman and CEO of TOKYO 2016, said: "Tokyo is very lucky to have the support of national heroes in Kosuke Kitajima and Ai Shibata. They are an inspiration to young people in Japan and across the world, showing how a superb attitude and dedication to the ultimate performance can achieve Olympic gold.
"With their help, I hope TOKYO 2016 can draw on the same spirit and winning mentality to achieve our own gold medal: the honour of hosting the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games and the opportunity to create a new sporting,
social, economic and environmental golden era for the benefit of Tokyo, Japan and importantly, the whole Olympic Movement."
Kosuke Kitajima said: "I want to dedicate my swimming to young people from across the world, for whom sport can be
an inspiration in their lives. Given the chance, I know TOKYO 2016 will inspire millions of youngsters to take up sport
and I hope that by taking that message to this year's Olympic Games and beyond I can play a small part in an incredible opportunity for my home city, Japan and the Olympic Movement as a whole."
Ai Shibata said: "Making the team for Beijing 2008 is extremely important to me as the Olympic Games is the pinnacle of any athlete's career. Tokyo would be the perfect city to receive the honour of hosting the Games because it has the needs of elite athletes at its very heart. I am proud to support what will be the most compact Games in Olympic history at the centre of our capital city."
Kitajima and Shibata confirmed their place at this summer's Games by taking to the water at the Tokyo Tatsumi International Swimming Centre, the proposed acquatics centre for the TOKYO 2016 swimming, diving, water polo and synchronized swimming events.
Kitajima and Shibata are not the first TOKYO 2016 Athlete Ambassadors to secure their place at Beijing 2008. Nineteen year-old women's table tennis starlet, Ai Fukuhara, and Tokyo-born five-time World Champion women's freestyle wrestler, Kyoko Hamaguchi, already have their tickets to Beijing.
TOKYO 2016 will announce further Ambassadors for its Bid between now and the International Olympic Committee vote to decide the Host City of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Copenhagen in October 2009.
For further information, please contact:
Tetsuo Nakayama (Mr), Chief Director, International Communications, TOKYO 2016 Olympic Games Bid Committee
Masa Takaya (Mr), Manager, International Communications, TOKYO 2016 Olympic Games Bid Committee