"Why can't we play official tournaments?" High school student devoted to Kendo laments

2022.4.20 06:30
"We haven't played a single official game yet. I can't understand why we can't have official matches in Chiba Prefecture while neighboring prefectures are holding them." A 16-year-old high school male student, who devotes to kendo (a Japanese form of fencing) in Chiba Prefecture, is deeply saddened. Although the situation with the new coronavirus has relatively settled down, restrictions on club activities will be imposed once again at the arrival of the "seventh wave".

Shinai (bamboo swords) used by a male student = in Chiba Prefecture

"I practice all the time, but I don't have any matches, so I don't enjoy it," he expressed his sad feelings in late March. He had been practicing kendo since his first year of elementary school, and the last time he participated in an official tournament was in the autumn of his second year of junior high school. It was due to the spread of novel coronavirus.
He wanted to test the results of his efforts at the prefectural preliminary tournament for the national competition, which was to be held in late January.

◆Only 4 prefectures

However, less than a week before the preliminary tournament, the club's advisor informs them that the tournament had been canceled. The student was not convinced. The reason was that the preliminary tournament was being held in the neighboring prefecture of Saitama at that time. The Omicron strain was spreading daily, but the number of new cases was not much different from Saitama.
According to the secretariat of the National High School Kendo Championships, Chiba, Kanagawa, Ibaraki, and Iwate were the only four prefectures that did not hold preliminary tournaments.
The Kendo Department of the Chiba Prefectural High School Athletic Federation explained that the reason for the cancellation was that the number of participating schools was expected to decrease due to the closure of schools and class units under the pandemic, and that there were new cases of infection after the tournament in another prefecture.
On the other hand, the officials in charge of Tokyo and Saitama, who decided to hold the competition, explain that they held the competitions in accordance with the policy of the Board of Education that it is acceptable to hold a preliminary competition that leads to a higher level of competition.

◆Great loss

The pandemic also forced 2020 inter-school athletics competition and National High School Baseball Championship to be cancelled. Arai Hirokazu, a professor of sports psychology at Hosei University, points out, "Not being able to experience various emotions, such as joy and bitterness, at a tournament is a great loss in terms of character development for children."
The student, who entered his second year of high school in April, has now changed his minds and is able to practice again, but another variant of the Omicron strain, XE, has already been confirmed in Japan. It is likely that children will be distressed again.

This article is composed using Google Translate customized exclusively for The Chunichi Shimbun. The translation may have limited accuracy.