New ambassador to Japan looking forward to Tokyo Olympics
Polak Petrič is a former member of the rhythmic gymnastics national team and although not having any experience of competing in the Olympics, she did establish herself as an international judge in this discipline later on in her sports career.
This career transition also gave her an opportunity to visit Japan for the first and so far the only time in her life - she visited the land of the rising sun in 1999 to judge at the Osaka World Championships.
She has fond memories of the visit and recalls being impressed by famous Japanese punctuality. She also received an International Gymnastics Federation award for her judging performance.
Polak Petrič, who has a PhD in law, was appointed ambassador to Japan in June and will leave for the country with her family on 18 August. She is to experience all the hustle and bustle of the Olympics now as ambassador instead of an athlete or judge.
Less than a year after her arrival, the Tokyo Summer Olympics will start in July 2020, followed by the 2020 Paralympics at the end of August.
"The Olympics and Paralympics and preparations for them will definitely be one of the greatest challenges which awaits me during my four-year term in Japan," said the new ambassador, adding that she believed Slovenia would do a good job presenting itself to the Japanese.
Polak Petrič is an avid sports fan, being particularly fond of gymnastics, basketball and swimming. She is a supporter of Slovenian athletes and believes the country has a number of excellent ones.
"I have in mind our successful judo athletes in particular, who are quite famous in the land of judo, as well as legendary gymnast Miro Cerar, who will be Slovenia's ambassador in Tokyo.
"I don't think any other country will have a gold Olympic winner from the 1964 Tokyo games there, so that would truly be something special.
"I can't wait to attend the games, cheer Slovenian athletes on and for us to help them achieve the best possible results".
Asked about the preparations, she told the STA that the location for the Slovenian house had already been chosen, with the Slovenian Olympic Committee having been preparing for quite some time already.
"Preparations for Slovenia's promotion in Japan have also got under way but I shouldn't spoil everything to keep it a surprise.
"However, as early as the autumn we expect the committee's delegation to visit Tokyo as well as the Paralympic committee's one, both of them visiting the sites, followed by the Slovenian Tourist Board delegation," said Polak Petrič, adding that she would be off to a busy start as an ambassador.
The Japan-based Slovenian embassy's primary task is to assist Slovenian citizens if needed, but it will also provide all the necessary contacts for Slovenian representatives as well as help organise high-level visits and Slovenia's promotional activities.
According to her, the Olympic games are a major sports event but also a way to bring countries or nations together.
The new ambassador is currently preparing to start her ambassador duties, including taking Japanese lessons. She pointed out that Slovenia's diplomatic team in Tokyo was small and that actual work would start upon arriving there.
"Slovenia's embassy is one of the smallest ones in Tokyo. We would like to do our job well but we do have limited capacities, including financial and staffing ones."
However, she acknowledged that the ministry always provided additional help during the Olympics. "We hope to receive some reinforcements including in the economic area."
Polak Petrič expressed hope that a great number of Slovenians would visit Japan or the Tokyo Olympics in particular but also urged them to follow the country's rules to the letter.
"Japan is still a very traditional society. If a violation occurs or one is suspected of an offence, procedures are much stricter than here," said the ambassador, highlighting that she wished such problematic situations would be non-existent.