Japan football star says Tokyo 2020 Games would “inspire children all over the world”

Sunday, 13 January 2013
By James Crook

159228742January 13 - Tokyo 2020 bid delegate and women's football star Hamare Sawa has claimed that an Olympic Games in the Japanese capital would "inspire children all over the world".

Sawa has competed for the Japanese women's football team at four Olympic Games, including last year at London 2012 when they were defeated 2-1 in the final by the United States at Wembley Stadium.

The midfielder won the Ballon D'or for 2011 after leading Japan to their first ever FIFA Women's World Cup title at Germany, winning the Golden Ball for best player and the Golden Shoe for top scorer, hitting five goals. 

"I have felt how exciting competing in the Olympics can be, and the atmosphere at London 2012 was incredible" Sawa told insidethegames.

"I think that Tokyo would have the same, or even a better atmosphere than London"

"It would be a dynamic celebration, for sure"

136629171Sawa was named as the best female footballer in the world for 2011 as she received the Ballon D'or alongside Men's winner Lionel Messi

The 34-year-old retired from international football immediately after the 2012 Olympics, but she has not ruled out a possible comeback should Tokyo win the bid to host the 2020 Games against its rivals Istanbul and Madrid. 

When asked whether there was any chance she would come out of retirement if the Japanese capital is awarded the 2020 Games by the International Olympic Committee at its Session in Buenos Aires on September 7, Tokyo-born Sawa avoided the question.

"I don't know," she said with a broad smile on her face.

But Sawa was certain of her main goal from the proposed Games in Tokyo - leaving a lasting legacy to encourage more young children to get involved in sport and to "believe that they can achieve anything"

"If we host the Olympics in 2020, I believe we can inspire children all over the world, not just in Asia"

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