Australian Olympic Connect Launched to Unite Japanese and Australian Students
The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) has announced the Australian Olympic Connect 2021 program which will bring together more than 12 000 Australian and Japanese students to share their culture, experiences and excitement for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
After a successful pilot program with 40 schools in 2020, the full program rollout in 2021 was announced by AOC President John Coates AC, with the support of Australian Ambassador to Japan Ms Jan Adams AO PSM and Ambassador of Japan to Australia His Excellency Shingo Yamagami.
With a tagline of ‘Tomodachi’ meaning ‘friendship’, the program will connect 200 schools from across every Australian state and territory and 200 schools from across every Japanese prefecture.
Shared video calls, class projects, Olympic themed challenges and ongoing bonds between students over the coming months will showcase the power of sport to bring people together.
Mr Coates said he was proud to see the AOC initiative uniting Japanese and Australian students ahead of the Tokyo Games.
“The Olympic movement unites countries and their people, and international friendship takes on an even more crucial role in the current climate,” Mr Coates said.
“After a successful pilot program in 2020, it is fantastic to see this opportunity being offered to thousands of students from a combined 400 schools in 2021.
“It has been a privilege to work so closely with the Government and people of Japan and to learn so much about Japanese culture. I am thrilled that Australian and Japanese students will get to share each other’s rich culture through this program.”
Ambassador Adams said Australian Olympic Connect will allow Australian and Japanese students to meet online, learn together, learn about each other and celebrate the Olympic Spirit.
“Through the program, I hope that new ties and relationships will be forged between both our countries,” Ms Adams said. “I really encourage schools to embrace this exciting opportunity to connect our young people and to learn from each other.”
The pilot program in 2020 connected more than 1500 students from Alice Springs to Osaka, with 100% of teachers in the program recommending the full rollout of the program and nominating to have their school take part again in 2021.
Teachers Nathan Williams (Bundaberg North State High in Queensland) and Yasuho Chiba (Mino Jiyu Gakuen in Osaka) were thrilled to see the announcement of Olympic Connect in 2021 after seeing what it provided their students as part of the pilot program last year.
“Our students thoroughly enjoyed participating in the pilot project,” Mr Williams said. “It engaged our junior students by using language in an authentic way to open their eyes to a new world and given our students an ability to feel connected whilst the Australian international borders remain closed to international travel.”
Ms Chiba agreed, adding, “The 2020 program was a much-valued opportunity to interact, create, share and communicate through all kinds of devices, which enabled the students to exchange their thoughts and feelings. It also allowed the students to feel the strong bond of friendship and good cooperation between the two countries.”