Toyota members, including me, participated in the Torch Relay as torchbearers, embracing the power of the Olympic and Paralympic Games to help create, through sports, a peaceful and an inclusive society without discrimination in which anyone can participate.
The first torchbearers for our relay section in Toyota City today were “Team Special Olympics*,” led by Mrs. Yoshiko Mitsui, chairman of Special Olympics Nippon, and included various athletes from different fields who support the activities of the organization.
I remember when Special Olympics Chairman Timothy Shriver told me his goal of creating a world without divisions that is open to everyone. He shared that the Special Olympics and Unified Sports were an invitation to help create a world without divisions. I have taken this message to heart since then.
When I was a university student, I spent most of my time playing field hockey. In my youth, people would often look at me with a certain bias because of my family name “Toyoda”, even though I always wanted others to know me as who I really am. It was only when I was playing sports that people treated me as just a teammate and person whose name is Akio Toyoda.
I believe that the power of sport lies in its ability to connect people with diverse personalities and backgrounds as they compete towards a common goal with mutual respect. My experience with sports has fundamentally shaped my life and the way I see the world.
When I received the torch today from “Team Special Olympics,” I accepted it as an invitation to help build a world without divisions. Mr. Shunsuke Suzuki, a first-year high school student, was the next torchbearer to whom I passed this invitation.
Mr. Suzuki’s grandfather was a former member of Toyota Long Distance (Running) Team and one of the torchbearers for the Tokyo 1964 Olympic Torch Relay. Mr. Suzuki, who has impairment with his legs, accepted the chance to serve as a torchbearer after learning that he would be able to participate in the Torch Relay using a tele-presence robot.
I met with him in March 2020 after learning that he is a big fan of motorsports rally and “Morizo,” and I promised that we would have his grandfather run together with him and perform a torch kiss in the relay.
As I finished a torch kiss with Mr. Suzuki today, I was relieved that I could finally fulfill the promise I made one year ago, but I was also reassured that emerging technologies can help us achieve our goal of “a world without divisions.”
“To realize a world without any divisions that is open to everyone,” and “To provide Mobility for All”―we all carried these thoughts in our heart as we passed the torch to the next torchbearers.