Photo/IllutrationJapan Sports Agency Commissioner Daichi Suzuki holds a news conference. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

Instead of creating mascots or picking the brains of insiders, the Japan Sports Agency commissioner is taking a more practical approach to increase the ratio of people who play sports.

Daichi Suzuki is asking members of the public and public administration officials to propose policy measures and projects.

But in the spirit of athletics, Suzuki is creating a competition with the project.

Suzuki on Dec. 12 said the person who comes up with the best idea will win the commissioner’s award and be given the opportunity to play a sport with an Olympian or Paralympian of his or her choice.

When asked if the winner would be allowed, for example, to skate with figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu or run the 100 meters with sprinter Yoshihide Kiryu, an agency official said, “That may depend on which athlete is named, but the JSA will do its best to make it happen.”

Suzuki, who has been JSA commissioner since the agency was set up in autumn 2015, won a gold medal in the backstroke at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

His name value and personal connections were key to his decision to call for public proposals.

“I have yet to fully understand the lifestyles of people outside the so-called sports village,” Suzuki said at a news conference. “I wish to hear opinions from various people.”

The entries will go through a screening process and a presentation session. The government will consider implementing the winning suggestion.

The entries must: (1) be projects aimed at raising the ratio of people who engage in sports; (2) have a clearly defined target audience; (3) show the costs and effects; and (4) cover a period between one and three years.

Applications can be sent to a website between Jan. 9 and 31. The proposals should be able to fit within two sheets of A4-size paper. Anyone can apply.

Entries can also be sent to a “public administration” division for those who work in prefectural or municipal governments. The winners of the commissioner’s award in that category will be entitled to hosting Suzuki in their workplace for a day.

“I hope applicants will imagine that they are the JSA commissioner in thinking about, and proposing, measures to make everyone fine and healthy,” Suzuki said.