The 62nd National Seven Universities Athletic Meet is being hosted this year by the University of Tokyo, and over the next few months, member universities will be competing in some 40 sporting events, to decide this year's overall winner.
Defending champions Tohoku University will be looking to win its 17th championship and fifth consecutive title.
To cheer the athletes on, a rally was held at Kawauchi Gymnasium on May 22, attended by about 130 representatives of Tohoku University's sports clubs and their faculty advisors. The event was also broadcast live for students and alumni to watch online.
In his speech, President Hideo Ohno said that the university has traditionally done well in the tournament and urged the student athletes to bring back an unprecedented fifth consecutive championship title. "Know that the whole university is rooting for you and cheering you on, including all our alumni, many of whom are joining us online today."
The captains of Tohoku University's kendo and women's basketball clubs then took the pledge on behalf of all the student athletes, to "do our best in the tournament, show the fruits of our hard work and training and win in the spirit of fair play."
The university's cheer squad (応援団) and cheerleaders then took center stage with a spirited performance.
The seven imperial universities involved in this tournament are Hokkaido University, Tohoku University, the University of Tokyo, Nagoya University, Kyoto University, Osaka University and Kyushu University.
With three winter sports already completed earlier this year - skiing (in which Tohoku University finished in first place), ice hockey (fourth) and aviation (fifth) - Tohoku University sits in third place, nine points behind current leader, the University of Tokyo.
Results of each sporting event, and the race to the overall championship, can be found on the tournament's homepage.
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