Cheers are not welcome at the Tokyo Olympics due to the coronavirus pandemic, but that doesn’t stop a group of energetic senior cheerleaders from continuing to work out at a gym in the Japanese capital. To the beat of Taylor Swift’s song Shake it off, Fumie Takino, 89, lifts his pompom and twirls while his fellow students – around 70 on average – do a vertical split.
Get to Know Japan’s Senior Citizen Cheerleading Team, Japan Pom Pom! https://t.co/bmWCPVI9XD pic.twitter.com/ExoEt6AXOo
– Japan Info (@Japan_Info_) December 10, 2016
“They are all very motivated […], it is not the pains in the legs and the hips which will stop them from moving forward ”, confides this woman, dean and founder of the troop of“ Japan Pom Pom ”about her comrades. At the rate of two hours of intense training per week, these seniors are currently preparing a big show to mark the 25 years of their troop, an event that had been postponed to 2020 because of the pandemic.
The risk of being misunderstood
A colossal and physically demanding task for them, but a good way to “maintain health” and a “reason for being”, estimates Masako Matsuoka, 73 years old. At the beginning of the adventure, Fumie Takino preferred to remain discreet about his passion, for fear of what might be said, and thus had difficulty recruiting other women to form his troop.
The concept of elderly cheerleaders, with miniskirt and sequined costume, was in danger of being misunderstood by Japanese society at the time, she recalls. But times have changed: now “there are several other bands and people have become accustomed to seeing us on television. It may still be disturbing for some, but we are there, let’s say that we have won our place in society, ”she says.