Tokyo Olympic Village
Photo: Youka Nagase

This man stands outside the Tokyo Olympic Village every day to motivate athletes

Arriving around 7am each day, he’s become a viral sensation at the athletes’ village for his inspirational sign

Youka Nagase
Written by
Youka Nagase

Tokyo is still buzzing with Olympic hype. Landmarks like Tokyo Skytree and Rainbow Bridge are lit up in the five Olympic ring colours come evening, while the majestic Olympic cauldron from the opening ceremony is now on display at Ariake. The athletes have also shared in the excitement, showing off their experiences inside the Olympic Village.

Olympians work hard to qualify and compete in the Games, but there are only three medals up for grabs in each event, leaving the majority of athletes inevitably disappointed.

Olympic Village 2020
Photo: Youka Nagase

But one Japanese man is here to remind the athletes that they don’t need to win a medal to prove they’re the best. Every morning, he stands outside the Olympic Village and holds up a sign that says ‘Good morning athletes! Even if you don’t get a medal, you’re still the best!! So believe in yourself!’

The man, who wishes to remain anonymous, comes as early as 7.15am and holds up the sign every time a bus transporting Olympic athletes passes by. He stays here for around two hours each day. The man says he initially started holding up welcome signs on July 22 – a day before the opening ceremony – but changed his sign to its current supportive message on July 26, after seeing so many people obsessing over the medal count. 

His efforts have not gone unnoticed. Appreciative athletes have posted pictures of him on Instagram and turned him into a viral star of the Games. The man will be standing outside the village every day until the last day of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics (Sunday Aug 8), so drop by and say hi to this local legend at the big Harumi 3-chome crossing.

Keep up-to-date with our guide to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics as well as our Tokyo 2020 Olympics medal tally for Japan.

More Olympics news

How to watch the Tokyo Olympics online for free

Tokyo convenience stores are an unexpected champion at the Tokyo Olympics

Ukiyo-e art appears in rice paddies in Saitama for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics

These Tokyo landmarks are lighting up for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Explained: the extra layers of meaning behind the Tokyo Olympic victory bouquets

Want to be the first to know what’s cool in Tokyo? Sign up to our newsletter for the latest updates from Tokyo and Japan.

Latest news