Loughborough signs deal with Japan
May 4 - Loughborough University will today sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Japan that will see both organisations working together until the London 2012 Olympic Games, as first reported on insidethegames.
Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) President Tsunekazu Takeda and Loughborough University Vice Chancellor Professor Shirley Pearce will officially sign the document at a ceremony at the Japanese Embassy in London later today.
As well as basing themselves at Loughborough in the weeks immediately prior to the London Games, Japan’s Olympic teams will also use the University’s world class facilities for training camps and final preparations before competitions in Europe over the next three years, starting with the Athletics World Championships taking place in Berlin in August.
Japan have initially indicated that 15 sports, including athletics, hockey, tennis, triathlon, badminton, basketball and weightlifting, will use Loughborough University and selected regional facilities between now and the 2012 Games.
insidethegames had reported last December that Japan had chosen Loughborough as its preferred choice after a high-level delegation, including the Japanese Education and Sports Minister Kenji Kosaka, visited the Leicestershire market town to inspect the facilities.
As insidethegames had reported, serious discussions had begun during the Olympics in Beijing last year when Loughborough officials had travelled to the Chinese capital to meet with Japanese officials.
This MoU comes following a rigorous process undertaken by the University and regional partners including the East Midlands Development Agency (EMDA).
The wide ranging agreement will also benefit the University’s academic research activity and teaching programmes, improve the student experience, develop cultural and business links in the region and help raise Loughborough’s international profile, officials claimed.
Loughborough claims to have the largest campus of any European university equipped with world-class performance facilities across a multi-range of sports with further development work to take place over the next four years in the run-up to London 2012, particularly in swimming, a sport in which the Japanese are traditionally strong.
The University also claims to have the best integrated sports development environment in the world and is home to some of the country’s leading coaches, sports scientists and support staff.
It is able to offer training for 22 of the possible 26 sports and disciplines that will be on the London 2012 programme.
It is also making much of its good international transport links and an estimated 80 minute journey into the Olympic Park by 2012.
Pearce said: “We are delighted to be able to announce Japan as the major nation basing themselves at Loughborough in the run up to the London Games.
"This is a very significant partnership that adds to our growing portfolio of relationships with major sports organisations and helps further our internationalisation strategy.
“There will be major cultural, academic and economic benefits arising from working with Japan.
"We are already in discussions to ensure University staff and students, the local Charnwood community and the wider East Midlands all gain from this new relationship.”
Jeff Moore, the chief executive of the EMDA, said: "I am extremely pleased that the Japanese Olympic Committee has chosen Loughborough University as its training base in Europe.
"[The} EMDA has supported Loughborough in its efforts to attract a major team to use its outstanding facilities, and this success is testament to excellent partnership working.
"Having a team such as Japan based in Loughborough will also result in additional economic benefits to the East Midlands.
"Athletes and their support staff will enjoy their time in the region as they discover our visitor attractions, shops and restaurants beyond Loughborough’s superb campus."
Sebastian Coe, the London 2012 chairman and a former student at Loughborough University, said: "Loughborough University has world class training facilities and it is excellent news that the Japanese National Olympic Committee have chosen to base themselves there in the run-up to the London 2012 Games. Hosting visiting teams is a great way for towns to get involved in our plans.
“There are many facilities available for National Olympic and Paralympic teams to chose from throughout the UK, offering an excellent selection. As someone who has studied and trained at Loughborough University,
"I know the Japanese team will have the best preparation possible for the London Games."
Japan has a proud Olympic history and has competed in all but two of the Summer Olympics since 1912.
At last year’s Beijing Games Japan finished eighth overall, winning nine gold, six silver and 10 bronze medals.
Under the terms of the agreement, the University will continue its extensive work with a wide range of sports governing bodies and will still play its unique part in the preparations of British competitors for London 2012.