Tokyo 2020 offers glimmer of hope exactly a year before kickoff

Tokyo, Jul 23 (efe-epa).- With exactly one year to go before the start of the Olympics, the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee on Thursday released a message aimed at offering signs of hope in the face of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Tokyo 2020 opted to commemorate the date simply with a message, given that large public celebrations cannot be held due to social restrictions to check the spread of Covid-19.

The three-minute message was delivered by Japanese swimmer Rikako Ikee, who in February 2019 announced she was suffering from leukemia and was forced to temporarily put aside her sporting career.

Ikee, specialist in the butterfly style and one of Japan’s strongest medal hopes at the Games, narrated from her perspective the challenges that athletes have overcome or face due to health problems like the one she faces.

“The future that we took for granted transformed, overnight, into something completely different,” said the sportswoman, about the event which was postponed by a year due to the pandemic.

The video showed footage of Tokyo and other cities besides featuring Olympic and Paralympic athletes, many of them carrying out victory celebrations and making gestures of solidarity.

“Sports is not just about the athletes. Sports show us the importance of solidarity,” said the swimmer in the voice-over.

Towards the end of the video, Rikako Ikee, completely in white, enters Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium, and raises the Olympic flame, while reading one of the closing messages: “Hope fuels the flame.”

The decision to postpone the Olympics was taken jointly by the Japanese government and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Mar. 24 due to the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus, which sparked a health crisis across the world.

The message from Tokyo 2020 came even as the Japanese capital registered a record number of Covid-19 cases for a single day. A total 366 people were found infected on Thursday, six months after the first Covid-19 case was detected in the country.

Both the IOC and the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee insist on sticking to the new date and have avoided specifying whether a new postponement or possible cancellation of the Olympics is on the cards if the coronavirus crisis persists.

The head of Japan’s Olympic organizing committee Yoshiro Mori reiterated in an interview on public broadcaster NHK on Tuesday that a decision on the matter will depend on finding a vaccine or effective medical treatment for the coronavirus.

When asked if it would be possible to hold the Games in the current situation, Mori said it was for the IOC to decide and refused to answer “hypothetical questions.”

However, Mori added that he did not believe that the situation would last another year. EFE-EPA


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