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Japan’s Data + Sports

Over 1 million citizens participated in Challenge Day 2023

June 22, 2023

The 31st anniversary of Challenge Day in Japan marked the final time for SSF to engage in this event. SSF has been playing a leading role in the coordination and support for this Sport for All, Sport for Everyone event since 1993. This page reports on the results of Challenge Day 2023 held on 31 May.

A) Overview

Challenge Day began in Canada in 1983 with the aim of motivating people to become physically active and raise community enthusiasm through competition among municipalities. Since 1993, SSF has been engaged in the coordination and support for Challenge Day in Japan.

Basic Information on Challenge Day:

    • Held every year on the last Wednesday of May
    • Competition starts from midnight and ends at 9 p.m. on the same day
    • Participants are required to exercise for at least 15 minutes.
    • Prticipation rate(%)= Number of participants The population of a participating municipality

The cities and towns that enter the competition are paired according to the sizes of their populations and compete in terms of their participation rates during the day. All residents as well as those who commute to work or schools in the area, and even tourists are eligible to join and be included in the participation rate.

B) Results of Challenge Day 2023

1) General results

Municipalities 67 (35 cities, 27 towns, 5 villages)
Date Wednesday, 31 May, 2023
Total population of all participating municipalities 2,185,181
Total number of participants 1,080,566
Average participation rate 49.4%

Not only sport promotion organizations, but also neighborhood associations and others organized a variety of physical activities to encourage citizens to participate. For instance, shopping centers, supermarkets, car parks and libraries, where many people can gather, were used as venues. It is also noteworthy that creating original physical activities through mixture with local traditional culture such as dance and performance is a unique characteristic of Challenge Day in Japan.


2) Challenge Day Grand Prize 2023

Ueno Village (Gunma Prefecture) won the Challenge Day Grand Prize for the highest participation rate again this year with a rate of 95.1%, representing 1,022 participants out of their total population of 1,075. It was their third time to win the Grand Prize of Challenge Day. In terms of the background to this high participation rate, telephone calls from the village office to each home were crucial. In other words, “high engagement, high participation”.

All results are available in Japanese from here:

C) Max’s eyes: Omura City

This year marked the 16th consecutive time that Omura city (Nagasaki Prefecture) participated in Challenge Day. Max Tamazawa, SSF Managing Director and TAFISA Board of Director, visited Omura City on 31 May. Mayor Sonoda welcomed him wearing a Challenge Day T-shirt produced by SSF. In addition, all the staff at the City Hall wore the T-shirt to show their enthusiasm for Challenge Day. Mayor Sonoda emphasized that Omura city would continue striving to encourage its residents to get into the habit of being physically active even after Challenge Day was held for the final time this year. At the site Tamazawa visited, children were having fun playing “tag rugby” organized with high school rugby clubs. The scene was reported in local newspapers and on cable TV.

Left: Hiroshi Sonoda, Omura City Mayor

Left: Hiroshi Sonoda, Omura City Mayor

The scene was reported in local newspapers and on cable TV.

An end, but also the beginning of new challenges

The history of Challenge Day in Japan finally came to a close this year. However, some of the cities and towns are now trying to organize their own local physical activity events to motivate the community to exercise and to raise awareness of health based on their experiences with Challenge Day to date.

SSF is certain that it has achieved definite results in terms of increasing the public’s motivation towards exercise and sports through Challenge Day over the years. SSF would like to take this opportunity to express its deepest gratitude to all the regions, local communities and the more than 36 million people throughout Japan who have taken part in Challenge Day over the past 30 years. SSF is looking forward to endeavoring to discover new approaches to cooperation and collaboration with the respective local authorities to further promote regional and community development through sport.

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