LEAD UP TO 2000 Summer Olympic Games in Sydney

Updated on August 29, 2000

2nd largest delegation from Japan
On Aug. 27, Japan's delegation forming ceremony was held first with 1300 in attendance at the Shin Takanawa Prince Hotel in Tokyo. The Crown Princess and Princess were present. Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori attended the send off party following the ceremony. Sumo grand champion Akebono also made an appearance to cheer on the Japanese athletes.

Soccer team to face Brazil
On June 3, a lottery was held to decided the grouping for the Olympic soccer event. Japan was fitted into Group D which includes last bronze winner Brazil, Slovakia and South Africa. Japan, in Atlanta defeated Brazil.
Japan in Group D
Sept 14 vs. South Africa
Sept 17 vs. Slovakia
Sept 20 vs. Brazil

Judoka reps in all divisions for the Olympic
On May 28, it was confirmed that Japan will be represented in every division of judo. That'll be 14 in all including men and women. It was as a result of the Asian Judo Championship in Osaka. The Nakamura brothers will take part, but only 2 of them this time, previously silver medalist Yukimasa and gold winner Kenzo. It's believed that including coaches and other supporters, the judo delegation to Sydney will reach 50. Other world champs participating are Ryoko Tamura, Hidehiko Yoshida and Shinichi Shinohara.

Synchronized swimming earns berth
On Apr. 11, Japan's duo came in 2nd at the Syncro 2000 Olympic Qualifying Open. They are Miya Tachibana and Miho Takeda. They showed performance reminding you of the elegance and strength of the Japanese tradition. And the next day, the team won the silver too by dancing to a routine called Firebird.

IN 1999
Baseball Asian preliminaries
The Asian qualifying round for baseball took off on Sept. 11 in Soeul Korea. 6 teams are part of it. It's the first time pros and amateurs are in the Olympic qualifier.
*Japan vs.the Philippines on Sept. 11
On the opening day, Japan faced the Philippines and beat the opponent 10 to 0 in a game which was cut short to 7 innings.
*Japan vs.Taiwan on Sept. 13
Japan's leading catcher, Atsuya Furuta of the Yakult Swallows joined the team. Daisuke Matsuzaka of the Seibu Lions arrived in Soeul surrounded by dozens of press people. However, he did not pitch in this game, but left it up to the amateurs. But there was no need for him, because his team won 9 to 1.
* Final round: Japan vs.Taiwan on Sept. 15
Japanese star of Daisuke Matsuzaka was the starter. But in the 3rd inning, he lost a run to Taiwan. Then in the 4th inning, the Japanese side caught up. The score was still a tie in the 9th. Taiwan dropped a in field fly. That changed the mood of the inning. Pinch hitter Jun Heino of Toshiba grounded the ball all the way to the outfield and ended the game. Matsuzaka hurled a distance and recorded 13 strike outs. However, Atsuya Furuta ended with no base hits
* Final round: Japan vs.China on Sept. 16
Furuta made up for a no-hit game for him the previous day. He got to first on a bunt and then the next time at bat, he had a base hit which led to a score. Japan defeated China 3 to 0. That evening, it was learned that Korea beat Taiwan. The 2 teams with 2 wins automatically won the berth to Sydney.
* Final round: Japan vs.Korea on Sept. 17
It was a fullhouse. And the whole stadium was cheering for Korea. But Japan was the first to score in the 3rd inning. Japan scored more runs, but the Koreans came back with base hits, and on top of that, Japan's infielder dropped a fly. Japan in the end lost 3 to 5 finishing 2nd in the Asian championship.

Men's basketball fails to make it
Japan's basketball team's loss to Taiwan on a Sept. 2 in the Asian qualifier had torn all possibility of it playing at the Sydney Olympics. It was defeated 68 to 77. The day before, it lost to South Korean team. Japanese men have failed to go to the Olympic Games to play basketball for the 6th time.

IN 1997
Keirin is a new Olympic sport
The Japan Cycling Federation was officially notified by the International Cycling Union on Dec.24 that the professional cycling event of keirin will be entered in Sydney. It will be among 3 other cycling events that will be new to the coming Olympics. Keirin is the second Japanese born sport to be in the Olympics. Judo was entered from the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games.

Keirin was started in 1948 as a gambling sport. It was first entered in the World Cycling Championships in France in 1980. Keirin is fun to watch, because it's not just a race. It involves strategy--that is, how to position yourself among 6 to 8 cyclists. In 1992, an advisor to the Japan Cycling Federation began lobbying keirin for the Olympic Games.