Japan Olympic and Paralympic Minister Shunichi Suzuki at Ming’s Court, Palau Royal Resort during his visit in Palau on August 20. (Rhealyn C. Pojas)

Koror, Palau – Two Japanese towns are hosting Palau athletes as part of its Host Town project, an initiative designed to prepare players for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics that is slated next year from July 24 until August 9.

Japan Olympic and Paralympic Minister Shunichi Suzuki said in an interview with the press during his visit in Palau on August 20 that Japan will be the first Olympic host to do the initiative.

Suzuki said that there are currently 416 municipalities in Japan who had volunteered to become host towns, two of these namely the Hitachi-Omiya City of the Ibaraki Prefecture and the Zao Town of the Miyagi Prefecture will be hosting Palauan athletes.

Through the host towns, athletes from participating countries will have exchange activities with the towns that include pre-training camps.

Aside from that, there will also be exchanges between the residents of Japanese Host Towns and the participating countries.

During Minister Suzuki’s visit, officials of Palau’s host towns had also come with him to meet with students Peleliu and Meyuns Elementary Schools.

“What is important with regards to the Host Town Project is that it should not end with the completion of the Tokyo 2020 Games. The relationship should continue further in the future and also in the context of exchange needs to be deepened,” Suzuki said.

Japan will also invite 15 individuals from the Pacific island countries to undergo training in Japan where they could enhance leadership skills for a week as part of the effort to continue the relationship even after the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020.

Palau National Olympic Committee (PNOC) Secretary General Baklai Temengil-Chilton also told the Times in a separate interview that Palau athletes had already benefited from the Host Town project this summer through training camps in Japan prior to the Pacific Games in July.

Temengil-Chilton said that the athletes’ next visit to the host towns in Japan will be in January, May, and June next year leading up to the Tokyo Olympics.

Temengil-Chilton added that they are still looking at the number of athletes in the fields of swimming, athletics, and Judo that Palau will be sending to compete in the Tokyo Olympics. (By Rhealyn C. Pojas)