Photo/IllutrationShingo Katori (photo by Hiroki Endo)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

Shingo Katori, formerly of male idol group SMAP, is now using his multiple talents to promote the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.

With the start of the 1,000-day countdown to the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics, Katori, 40, has been appointed The Asahi Shimbun’s special navigator of the sporting event.

Born on Jan. 31, 1977, in Kanagawa Prefecture, Katori became a member of SMAP in 1988, and has appeared in dramas, movies and TV commercials. He is also an enthusiastic artist dedicated to his creative works, such as paintings.

Katori, along with former SMAP mates Goro Inagaki and Tsuyoshi Kusanagi, were named special supporters of the Nippon Foundation Paralympic Support Center on Nov. 15.

Katori described his commitment to tackle various issues related to “parasports” before and after the Tokyo Paralympic Games in an article he wrote for The Asahi Shimbun.

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I have just started walking a new path in life.

As a member of SMAP, I had performed for 30 years, but I’ve decided to start from scratch instead of continuing the activities that I had been engaged in.

It was with this decision that I could take a new step forward.

I’m not completely free of uncertainty. But when I looked up to sky, wondering what to do, a person there encouraged me to keep trying.

When I was looking down, a person grabbed me by my neck and pulled me up, saying: “You’ve decided to start from zero. Just forge ahead!”

When you get into the full swing of your work, it’s hard to be aware that you have actually been supported by other people.

But now I can clearly see the hands of the people who have been supporting me, which far exceeds my expectations. So now it’s my turn to be someone who gives people strength in their lives.

I am interested in parasports, but I still do not have a deep understanding about them. Two years ago, I was offered a chance to paint a mural, which measures 2.6 meters high and 6.1 meters wide, at the entrance of the Nippon Foundation Paralympic Support Center in Tokyo’s Minato Ward, in conjunction with its establishment in 2015. The center supports parasport associations.

While I was painting the mural, I learned various aspects of parasports.

For example, there are a variety of events in parasports. But information about them and spectator crowds are limited compared with events in the Olympics. I also learned that organization for parasports suffers from a labor shortage.

I was surprised to learn that the environment for parasports is insufficient compared with Olympic events, even if they both carry the same name of “sports.”

What I can do might be limited. Yet, I feel that I can increase the voices that cheer the athletes and support the Paralympics.

I perform at theaters, appear on TV and sing songs. But I could not achieve any of this on my own. The people who are moved or inspired by these performances make them significant.

Winning first prize is not the only drive of “para-athletes.”

They can keep trying harder all the more because of people who are deeply moved by them, who visualize themselves doing the hard work of the athletes, and who are inspired to support the Paralympians.

In striving to meet their supporters’ expectations, para-athletes hone their skills, which eventually provides an overall upgrade to parasports, I believe.

From now on, I would like to further study, watch and learn about parasports.

I also want to convey the world of parasports through a “filter” called Shingo Katori.

And I want people to watch the process I will take to learn this unknown.

There are around 1,000 days to go before the Tokyo Paralympics. I’m willing to stay close to para-athletes and staff members who have a passion for the event.

It would be nice if children will eventually talk about para-athletes more often in their conversations.

In order to share the “Paralympic fever” with everyone, I will move forward, step by step, carrying a new map.

November 28, 2017

Shingo Katori

(Contributed by Shingo Katori)