Aftershocks: The new Olympic Channel original series about how sport is uniting Japanese communities 

We follow Japanese Olympians to their hometowns to see how they are rebuilding their communities through sport in the wake of The Great East Japan Earthquake. 

By Andrew Binner

Friday 11 March 2011: the day Japan’s east coast was shaken to its core.

The Tōhoku earthquake began at 14:46 local time, measuring 9.0 on the Richter Scale, and claiming 15,848 lives.

To make matters worse, the subsequent tsunami caused a cooling system failure at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, which resulted in a level-7 nuclear meltdown and release of radioactive materials.

The coastal areas of Tohoku and southern Hokkaido were totally devastated, with approximately $360 billion-worth of damage caused.

However, as the dust settled on one of the country’s largest ever natural disasters, the true power of sport began to show.

In the new Olympic Channel original series Aftershocks, we follow athletes whose lives were directly affected by the The Great East Japan Earthquake. They travel back to their hometowns to discover how sport is helping rebuild the lives of people in their communities.

You can find the new series here.

In Episode 1 of Aftershocks, triathlete Hiroyuki Nishiuchi returns to Minami Soma, which was at the centre of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The two-time Olympian takes in the remarkable recovery the city has made since 2011, with many of the residents having now returned to work.

Nishiuchi also takes part in the annual Minamisoma marathon - a shining example of how sport can unite people.

Episode 2 sees cyclist Kazunari Watanabe take a trip to his birthplace Futaba.

Situated less than 20km from the destroyed Fukushima power plant, Futaba is now a ghost town. The area has been deemed unfit for human life, and falls within the high radiation exclusion zone.

The 36-year-old Olympian looks at his eerie hometown through new eyes in the wake of the damage, while also also learning how the local residents are determined to recover their beloved town.

How to discover Aftershocks

The first episodes of the new series are now live here, on Olympic Channel.