IN Japan, where the Olympic Games will start next week, a voluntary group of Solomon Islanders and their friends are waiting for the arrival of the Team Solomon to support them.
The group named GoSoloGo2020Tokyo was formed in 2019, headed by Alistair Legua from Isabel.
Besides Solomon Islanders in Japan, the members are the Solomon Island loving Japanese, such as EX-JOCV, business people, and fisheries people.
“My two and half years in the Solomons were very memorable, and I always remembered Solomons after returning to Japan,” Kyoji Mizutani, the former JICA representative in Solomon Islands said.
“When I heard that this group was formed, I invited my colleagues to join. And everyone recommended Alistair to be the chair,” Mizutani recalled.
There are a few dozens of Solomon Islanders living in Japan, scattered all over the country.
Legua, an old boy of KGⅥ, went to Japan as a scholarship student 29 years ago and has lived there ever since.
“There were not so many delegations coming from my country to Japan.
“Especially since last year’s Covid-19 pandemic, traffic has been severely restricted, and all Solomon Islanders here are expected to receive our wantok team,” Legua said.
The group had fundraised and planned various exchange projects and support projects.
However, Tokyo is under a state of emergency until August 22, and public gathering is restricted.
“Unfortunately, Covid-19 has forced us to reconsider or cancel the various exchange projects we were planning.
“We can’t even get together in Tokyo,” Legua said.
“However, we are all trying our best to support Team Solomon with Japanese friends. We hope all athletes could perform well and enjoy Olympic Games,” he added.
The Team Solomon is coordinated by Naoyuki Fujiyama, treasurer of NOC and has lived in Solomon Islands for 31 years.
He joined NOC late 1990s and has been working for the Team Solomon to participate in the Olympic Games since then.
“I was in Malaita, working for Kilufi hospital early 1990s and have been a friend of Fuji since then,” Machiko Kawada, former JOCV and one of the founders of the group said.
“As soon as I heard that Fuji is coming to Japan with the Olympians to Tokyo, I decided to contribute to the Team for the success of the athletes.”
Many Japanese volunteers have been worked in the Solomon Islands.
One of them is Kazunori Watanabe, known as Kazu.
He was the coach for the U17, U20, U23 national soccer team in the mid-1990s and defeated NZ for the first time in 1993.
“Last year, I heard about the group and decided to join immediately,” says Watanabe.
“There is limited opportunity for us to do under COVID-19, but why not cheering up the Team Solomon.
“We should try our best as athletes from Solomons do.”
“Many ex-volunteers have always approach our office to seek the opportunity to keep ties with Solomon Islands,” says Tatsuya Haga, Secretary General of the Honorary Consulate of Solomon Islands in Tokyo.
“They always communicate with Solomon Islanders in Japan. Such background leads this project and it is not always in other country, as far as I know.
“It is an essential part of the relationship between the two countries,” Haga pointed out.
The Tokyo Olympics will bring together more than 10,000 of the world’s top athletes from 206 countries.
Three Olympians will participate from Solomon Islands.
They are Mary Kini Lifu for weightlifting, Edgar Richardson Iro for swimming and Sharon Kikini Firisua for athletics.
Deputy Prime Minister Manasseh Maelanga will also visit Japan as a VIP delegation and will meet with Japan’s government leaders, IOC executives and others.
The team will leave for Japan on the 19 July.