Yasuhiro Yamashita, president of the Japan Olympic Committee (JOC), on Monday expressed his best wishes to Beijing for staging a successful Olympic Winter Games next February.
"I would like to extend my warm congratulations to the Beijing Winter Olympic Games and the Winter Paralympic Games which will be opening soon," said Yamashita in a speech at a launching ceremony of an exhibition on the Beijing Winter Olympics.
The 64-year-old Yamashita, one of the greatest judokas in history, added: "I heard that all the preparations have been finished. I believe that athletes from all over the world will play their best in those venues in Beijing. I wholeheartedly wish the Beijing Olympics and Paralympics a great success for the athletes."
Yamashita confirmed that he will travel to China on January 30 with the Japanese delegation, which will have over 200 members.
"The Japanese delegation will be officially unveiled on January 29 and depart for Beijing on January 30. I will join them too. Although we have not decided how many athletes will be competing, but there will be more than 200 members," he noted.
"I think our athletes will live up to the expectations of the Japanese people."
Yamashita, who won a judo gold medal at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games, was forced to miss the 1980 Moscow Olympics because Japan had pulled out of the Games after the Soviet Union's 1979 invasion of Afghanistan.
Like Kano Jigoro, the founder of judo, Yamashita has done a lot to promote cultural and sports exchange between Japan and China. He helped to establish two judo schools in two Chinese cities of Qingdao and Nanjing.
Yamashita, who was a hot favorite to win the heavyweight gold medal at the 1980 Moscow Olympics, had to watch from the stands as a spectator, while top rivals vied for the gold. So he opposes any attempt to boycott the Olympics.
"We cannot deprive the athletes' chance of competing at the Olympics," he said in an interview with Xinhua before the Tokyo Olympics. "I think Japan will not boycott. As far as I know, although there are government officials in some countries making some comments (about boycott), there has not been a single local Olympic Committee that has agreed with such remarks."