Imagine flipping your TV channel over to the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics – assuming that the Japanese capital wins the bid – and seeing the words “Hide-and-Seek” on the bottom of the screen, while the “it” from the Mozambique team tries to find those sneaky Norwegians in the gold medal match. However crazy “hide-and-seek as an Olympic sport” sounds to you – we at JDP imagine it with the whispered commentary akin to that in golf – that is exactly what 64-year-old professor Yazuo Hasaki is pushing for if ever the International Olympic Committee hands the hosting privilege of the XXXII Olympiad to Tokyo on Saturday in Buenos Aires.
Hazaki, a graduate of Nippon Sport Science University and currently a professor of media studies at Josai International University, believes Tokyo 2020 would be the perfect occasion for the Olympic community to embrace his chosen sport. “I would like hide-and-seek to be one of the exhibition sports in 2020 and then it could become an official event at subsequent Olympics,” Hazaki said, whom at 64, may not be in the “faster, higher, stronger” category that is bannered by the quadrennial games. But he says guile is also a very important an attribute in an athlete, and his chosen event – competitive hide-and-seek – and he is lobbying for it be included in the 2020 Games.
You may think it a joke, but Hazaki is serious about this. In fact, he has since set up the Japan Hide-and-Seek Promotion Committee in 2010, with the organization already having 1,000 members across the Japan. Many are university students, but the sport can be enjoyed by anyone, he says. “I want to encourage a sport for all, meaning that anyone can take part, regardless of age, gender or ability,” he said. “When you watch sports these days, it’s all about world-beating techniques and skills – fantastic dribbling, running or shooting skills in football.”
The committee has even set formal rules for competitive hide-and-seek, pitting two teams of seven players against each other in a 10-minute match. A playing area for adults measures 65 feet x 65 feet , while the children’s version – those under the age of 12 – is played on a “pitch” measuring 55 feet x 88 feet. “We are trying to arrange games all across Japan so many people can play, to see how much fun it is and that anyone can play,” Prof. Hazaki said. “It may be difficult to get hide-and-seek into the Olympics – the IOC just kicked wrestling out, and that is a sport that has been around for a long time – but I see Tokyo 2020 as our big chance,” he said.