The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced Tokyo as host city for the XXXII summer Olympiad, knocking out Istanbul as the venue for the largest sporting event in the world. Perhaps the judges were swayed by a Japanese scheme to include an elite version of “Hide and Go Seek” on the sports roster?
Professor Yasuo Hazaki, a professor of media studies at Josai International University, set up the Japan Hide-and-Seek Promotion Committee in 2010 to promote his beloved “sport”. Don’t laugh. The organization has attracted over 1,000 members, albeit mostly college students.
“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, told The Daily Telegraph.
“I want to encourage sport for all, meaning that anyone can take part, regardless of age, gender or ability,” said Hazaki. “When you watch sport now, it’s all about world-beating techniques and skills – fantastic dribbling, running or shooting skills in football, for example. But that’s not sport for all,” he said. “Hide-and-seek is a sport that anybody can play, from children as young as 4 years old to someone who is in their 80s.”
The committee’s established formal rules for competitive play, where two teams of seven players face off in a 10-minute match. In the first half, one team is given two minutes to hide on a square pitch that measures 65 feet on each side. The opposing team then has to locate hiding players, tagging them out with a simple tap. Children play on a smaller sized pitch.
Woodlands with light tree growth offer the best opportunities for the hiding team; however, Hazaki has staged competitions in gardens and on beaches, venues that present unique challenges for the athletes.
Successful players generally are speedy runners who can quickly identify good hiding spots and be able to keep very still. Since it’s an outdoor sport, athlete tolerance for insect bites also factors in.
“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,” said Hazuki.
What’s all this got to do with the Middle East? A unique club of exiles is forming as a result of regional unrest. Add recent diplomatic defections to the ranks of ousted politicians and émigré leaders and you’ve got a potential gold medalist team of men skilled in hiding.
Interested in qualifying? Then come out, come out wherever you are.
Update: This Japanese prof is not the first to come up with the idea. Watch the Monty Python stunt below:
Image of a hiding woman from Shutterstock