27 Apr. 2020
President of the Japan Handball Association (JHA), Kanji Wakunaga, has sent a message via IHF.info to the global handball community in these difficult times:
Dear Handball Friends of the World,
On behalf of the Japan Handball Association, I would like to extend my deepest condolences to everyone who has been affected by the new coronavirus infection. We are in mourning for those who have passed away and we all hope that everyone under treatment will recover as soon as possible.
Furthermore, I would like to express my sincere respect to those who are fighting at the front lines of medical practice and those who are doing their utmost to maintain social functions.
Above all, I hope that the situation will end as soon as possible.
We are in a very difficult situation all over the world, but I believe that humanity will surely overcome this pandemic.
I am convinced that next year's Tokyo Olympics will be a competition where handball families from all over the world gather in Tokyo to further strengthen our ties.
The Japan Handball Association will continue to prepare for the competition with all its strengths.
We look forward to seeing you in Tokyo.
Finally, I would like to sincerely pray for the health of you, your family and friends.
With best regards,
President, The Japan Handball Association
Following the message, coaches and players of the JHA have gotten together behind one simple message – ‘Stay Home’.
Using the social media hashtag #stayhome, a video was launched this week by the JHA to promote good practice in combatting COVID-19 with a number of national team players and both senior coaches recording their own messages in English, Japanese and Polish.
“I hope you are all taking care of each other in Japan in this difficult time,” said Japan women’s coach Ulrik Kirkely. “I want all of you to stay strong, stay healthy, and, of course, stay home.”
Men’s coach Dagur Sigurdsson added “please stay home, stay safe, and be patient – we will all come stronger out of this.”
The JHA have also created a page on their website for the Stay Home series and will update it weekly.
In addition to their #stayhome messages, both senior head coaches released a joint statement to IHF.info in relation to the 12-month postponement to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
“Due to the spread of coronavirus, the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 will be postponed for one year,” the statement said. “We take this news seriously and will go forward accordingly.
“What we can do is to continue our efforts day by day in order to show the world our best performance in the Olympics, one of the biggest international events for our athletes to show their worth, which may also allow some athletes who are currently injured to recover and represent Japan next year.
“We promise that we will make the most of each and every day from now on, to inspire dreams, courage and passion through our performance at the Tokyo Olympic Games.”
Men’s national team captain Remi Anri Doi revealed that the postponement of the Games has inspired his team even further.
“We had been training hard for Tokyo 2020, believing it would go ahead this summer, and had managed to keep training enthusiastically without neglecting any suggested anti-contagion measures,” he said to IHF.info. “Working through this extra challenge actually enabled us to reaffirm the passion we all share as a team towards the Olympic Games.
“However, once the postponement of the Olympic Games was announced, our training camp was cancelled, but it hasn’t disheartened us,” he added. “Rather, we will make this an opportunity for further success and keep doing our best every day.”
A large number of other Japanese national team players also released their own statements via the JHA Instagram (in Japanese).