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The World of Sport Unites for Japan

Photo montage of some of the many sporting events in Singapore which took time to remember the victims of the Japan earthquake and tsunami.  (Photo: SSC & Albirex Niigata Singapore)
 
Ever since Japan was struck by the biggest quake in her history, she has received support from all over the world. With specialist personnel flying in from around the world, much needed relief efforts flooding in and the support of many others, Japan is still reeling from the disaster.
 
It is times like these that see people putting aside their differences and uniting for one common goal; to help and support. The world of sports is certainly doing its part, from football to baseball and Formula One, everyone is certainly doing their part and the sports scene in Singapore is certainly chipping in too.
 
With Courts Young Lions and Etoile FC leading the way with donations and fundraising events, more is to come from the football scene here. Albirex Niigata and the S.League All Stars will be playing a charity game on April 2 that will feature former World Cup footballer and Japanese poster boy Hidetoshi Nakata.
 
It is heartening to see rivals putting aside their differences in such situations. It is certainly heartwarming to see these idols of ours, people we adorn the walls of our rooms with, giving back to society and most importantly to the people who ‘hero-worship’ them.
 
These are also the views of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who felt that they needed to do something due to their strong ties with the Japanese people. Organising fundraising and charity events, the Dodgers felt that they needed to extend a helping hand to their loyal fans from Japan.
 
In the most recent Australian Formula One Grand Prix in Melbourne, all 24 drivers paused for a minute of silence before the race and in an extreme show of compassion; Ferrari altered their tradition of having all-red Ferraris in order to fit the flag of the rising sun and a message in Japanese for the people onto their race machines.
 
Japanese sportsmen such as baseball players Suzuki Ichiro and Hideki Matsui have also donated large amounts of cash for the relief efforts and football stars such as Keisuke Honda and Yuto Nagatomo have taken time off to participate in a charity match between the Japanese international team and the J.League all-stars. Major clubs such as Italy’s Inter Milan and German side Schalke should also be applauded for allowing their Japanese stars to return for this game despite their busy schedule.
 
Tennis stars such as Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal also put their rackets aside to play a game of football to raise funds, but those were not the only actions from the tennis community. Kim Clijsters, Vera Zvonareva along with Japanese players such as Kimiko Date-Krumm, also walked through the stands during the Sony Ericsson Open to collect donations from fans and encouraged the public to show support for the victims.
 
In Singapore, a minute of silence for the victims was also observed at the National Cheerleading Championships 2011 held on 20 March at the Jurong East Sports Hall. Countless fundraising events have also taken place but one which certainly tugged at our heart strings would be the efforts of Japanese couple, Hiro and Maki Nishiuchi, at the recent Aviva Ironman challenge. Despite the emotional roller coaster they went through, they dug deep to run the race with the aim of raising funds for their countrymen back home.
 
Ultimately, everyone’s a winner when the world comes together like this, with Japan receiving the much needed support to step out of this devastating crisis, sports fans would also certainly enjoy the special appearances of our idols and appreciate their efforts in this. It are such actions that certainly makes these ‘gods’ human, allowing us to associate ourselves with them.
As Muhammad Ali, nicknamed ‘The Greatest’ once said, “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”