Track athletes from South Sudan have been training in the city of Maebashi in Gunma Prefecture since November 2019 to prepare for the Olympics and Paralympics. Due to the long civil war in the country, South Sudan lacks adequate training facilities. Maebashi City stepped in by playing host to the athletes. The city established a fund to support the athletes at a long training camp and went online to collect donations from across Japan. (This program was broadcast on November 12, 2020.)
A five-member team from South Sudan stayed when the Olympics were postponed, and their extraordinary training camp has now been prolonged to continue for over a year.
The team is led by Guem Abraham Majok Matet who runs in the men’s 1,500 meters. Abraham came to Japan, with high hopes for the Olympic Games as a festival of peace.
The athletes also have many opportunities to meet local citizens. These gatherings, too, provide chances for the people of Maebashi to think about peace issues.
Twenty million yen had been received in donations from all over Japan to fund the extension of the South Sudanese athletes' training camp, and corporate sponsors also stepped in.