MILWAUKEE — Despite the thousands of miles between Milwaukee and Tokyo, many Japanese-Americans take pride in seeing their country on display as the 2021 Olympic Games kick off.
Ron Kuramoto is a third-generation Japanese-American living in Milwaukee. His grandparents immigrated to America in 1910.
"For one thing, by law, my grandparents came in 1910, but they could not become U.S. citizens," said Kuramoto.
While it wasn't all smooth-sailing, Kuramoto, like many Japanese-Americans, learned to balance a sense of appreciation for both his present and past family heritage.
Now both of his worlds are colliding as some of his favorite athletes head to Tokyo to compete in the Olympic Games.
According to APPI Voting Data, in Wisconsin there are roughly 2,700 Japanese citizens. While there may not be a large presence in town, Kuramoto believes they will all tune into their TVs with joy as they watch their country and culture represented.
"I want everyone to feel a sense of pride that this can happen. I feel somewhat a sense of pride that it's happening in Japan," said Kuramoto.
But Kuramoto also shares concerns about watching the pandemic cause protests and stir concerns.
"Sort of mixed feelings in a lot of ways. I'm proud to see the Olympics; I'm concerned about the whole COVID thing," said Kuramoto.
So far, more than 70 credentialed Olympic individuals have tested positive for coronavirus, according to Tokyo's 2020 Public Database. This is leading to protests at the site as people demand the cancellation the games altogether.
"It is of concern that you have athletes from all over the world, and spectators to certain extent, fans, from all over the world coming in," said Kuramoto.
Kuramoto has faith that maybe these games can bring the city together, just as our NBA season brought Milwaukee together.
"I do think there's a certain amount of pride in just getting things to happen under extremely difficult situations," said Kuramoto.