Queen Elizabeth II opens the 2012 Olympics on Saturday Japan time (Friday local time). This is the third time that London hosts the Olympics. This year’s Olympic Games mark the 30th modern Olympics since the first modern Olympic Games were held in Athens in 1896.

For Japan, the London Olympics marks the 100th year since it first took part in the games in Stockholm.

Two days before the official start of the London Games, the Nadeshiko Japan team defeated Canada in its opening game of women’s Olympic football. The next day in men’s Olympic football, Japan drove to a shocking 1-0 win over Spain. It is hoped that Japanese athletes taking part in the London Games will give joy and excitement to fans back home.

The 2008 Beijing Olympics served as an occasion for China to enhance its national prestige. It is hoped that the London Olympics will be a pure sports event that will provide a meaningful drama for people all over the world.

The London Games have significance in the history of Olympics. For the first time, women’s boxing events — women’s fly-, middle- and lightweight divisions — are making their Olympic debut. This means that both men and women are taking part in all 26 sports at the London Games. This open-door policy will help promote the idea of equality between men and women.

The International Olympic Committee also made an effort to persuade countries reluctant to allow women to participate in sports because of religious and other reasons to send women athletes to the London Games.

At the Beijing Olympics, women participants from Brunei, Qatar and Saudi Arabia were absent. This time all participating countries have men and women athletes.

A female athlete from Qatar taking part in a shooting event will carry her country’s national flag in the opening ceremony. The IOC patiently held talks with Saudi Arabia, which does not provide physical exercise classes for women, on its sending women athletes. It was eventually agreed that women athletics and judo players will take part in the London Games as invited participants. The IOC should be praised for its efforts.

Women, numbering 156, form a majority of Japan’s 293 athletes participating in the London Games. Women have brought more gold medals than men to Japan since the Athens Olympic Games in 2004. On the U.S. team, meanwhile, women have outnumbered men for the first time — by eight.

Officials of the Japanese team have set the goal of winning 15 or more gold medals. But the most important thing is that Japanese athletes try their best and show their full talent. That will provide encouragement to the Japanese, especially those who are trying to recover from the effects of the 3/11 disasters.

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