Here is a newspaper article based on an interview with Mao about Tokyo 2020 Olys and Paras.(*note: This article was written/re-constructed by the interviewer Mako Hara based on an interview with Mao. It's not written by Mao herself.) _
(my rough translation)
The whole nation was excited. Why? I was 7 of the age at the time. When I asked mom, I was told that Nagano Olys were ongoing. I watched the Olys everyday on TV. I adored Tara Lipinski who won the gold in ladies' figure skating.
Since then the biggest event is always Olys to me. Athletes are people who want to win the best results on the best stage. They live stoic lives and devote all of themselves for reaching it. If they think "I don't care even if I cannot win." or "I placed 2nd. Forget about it.", the game is over. Me too always wanted to win everything and it encouraged me to work hard.
Such people are coming together to Tokyo. I wonder if it's due to the power coming from the devoted athletes, but a special atmosphere overwhelms the venues. And those venues themselves look sparkling with the special decorations for Olys as well.
That being said, the winner is only one. It's even cruelly easy to find who is the winner in sports. It makes sports exciting but at the same time it can also give shocks to competitors. Me too was shocked at the moment of failing in winning the gold. I felt sorry [for people] as well. On the podium I heard the voices saying "Congratulations!""Thank you!" from the audience. It made my heart filled with happiness finding "Even the silver medal can be appreciated."
However, it was after my retirement that I could truly think winning is not everything from bottom of my heart. Being on the audience side, I got more chances to know the process of other athletes' endeavor. I became to feel, winning or not, we can learn a lot from athletes making their biggest endeavor.
When I was competing, I had a lot on my mind about reaching my goals. Looking back, I was not fully aware of my influence on people at the time. Today I'm traveling across the country, for 'Mao Asada's Thanks Tour', to deliver my gratitude to people who supported me. Usually the majority of ice shows' audience is women in their 20s-40s. In contrast, MTT has men and women, young and old, and even men coming alone in the stands. I can see their faces since the tour is visiting mostly small rinks. I can see some people are in tears even during the opening of the show. I can hear others shouting "Thank you for encouraging me!" as well. Those scenes surprise me to find how much they have supported me with their heart and soul.
Athletes must be supported greatly by the home crowd at the Olys. Audience will encourage the athletes to show their best performances. I wish athletes will not take the applause as pressures on their shoulders. I wish they accept the applause as it is and change it into power for increasing their self-confidence.
Actually I could not agree with inviting Tokyo Olys and Paras at first. Japan had natural disasters like every year in those days. I thought what we should focus on was re-constructions of the affected areas. As I've visited the affected areas and seen the improvements in the re-constructions, I came to think that the time is coming for sports to deliver their energy to people, though.
I started working as an interviewer with Paralympians. I started the job because it had been weighing on my mind that I was told "People's eyes are on Olympians. I envy you guys." by a Paralymipian at a debreaf meeting with medal winners after Vancouver Olys/Paras.
I'll be happy if lots of people get interested in Para athletes. Sometimes athletes can put their thoughts together by talking with an interviewer. I wish my interview will help them to put their thoughts together and make their will for pursuing the goals stronger. Para athletes' back grounds or approaches to sports have vast varieties. I found lots of things by working as an interviewer with them. If anyone of the Para athletes I met through this job makes an Paralympics team, I guess I'll cry.