Challenge Day, a mass sporting event held around the world [2007/07/11]
Kurume City in Fukuoka, one of the municipalities
taking part in this event
Challenge Day is a unique sporting event with a goal of mass participation, held annually around the world on the final Wednesday of May. In Japan, this year's event saw approximately 870,000 people from 92 municipalities take part in a wide range of sporting events.
Since 1993, the Sasakawa Sports Foundation has promoted this event nationwide in an effort to firmly establish physical activity as a part of our daily life. This year marked the 15th annual Challenge Day event.
Challenge Day is an event in which communities with comparable populations compete to see which can achieve the largest number of people who take part in sports lasting 15 minutes or more. It began in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada in 1983, involving 50 municipalities, and since then has gradually spread across Canada to include some 600 communities today. One in five Canadians are said to participate. In addition, Challenge Day is now held in 1,500 places in 30 countries, including Japan, making it a truly worldwide sporting event. Any and all are encouraged to participate, regardless of age or gender, and it is expected that the event will become a bigger draw with each passing year.
In Japan, the competition lasts from midnight through 9:00 pm, and is held as a face-off between pairs of randomly chosen communities of similar populations. To spur competitive spirit, losing communities must fly the flag of the winning community on the main flagpole of its government buildings for one week. According to the Sasakawa Sports Foundation, a total of 871,816 people throughout Japan participated this year, for an average participation rate of 51.5%. Although the 's goal was one million participants, poor weather had a dampening effect on this year’s turnout.