Photo taken on July 23, 2020 shows a countdown clock displaying 365 days to go until the start of the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. (Xinhua photo)
TOKYO – Tokyo 2020 organizers marked one year to go until the opening of the delayed Olympic Games on Thursday as the Japanese capital reported a record 366 new confirmed Covid-19 cases.
A one-minute video was released at a subdued event held behind closed doors at the Olympic Stadium, where the opening ceremony will be held at 8 p.m. on July 23, 2021.
The video, which contained messages of support for all athletes aiming to participate at next year’s Games, was unveiled on the main screen and expressed Tokyo 2020’s determination to keep a beacon of hope alive until sports can resume as normal.
Japanese swimmer Rikako Ikee, who had been battling with leukemia, said, “Imagine the world in a year: a world where the curtain is set to rise on the Olympic and Paralympic Games.”
The 20-year-old Ikee, who was released from hospital in December 2019 after going through 10 months of treatment, competed in seven events at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and kept her hope of winning an Olympic medal alive at home after resuming training in February 2020.
“I have faith that one year from today the flame of hope will light these very grounds,” she said holding a lantern with the Olympic flame.
Tokyo 2020 President Yoshiro Mori said: “I cannot imagine how athletes set to take center stage must have felt about the first-ever postponement of the Games.
“Inspired by the beacon of hope that lit up the Olympic Stadium today, the Organising Committee will put forth every effort toward preparing for next year’s Games, ensuring they remain in our memory forever as a symbol of unity and solidarity, as together we work to overcome the challenges of Covid-19.”
Tokyo Governor Koike Yuriko urged Tokyo residents to refrain from going out as much as possible after a record 366 new cases of the coronavirus were confirmed on Thursday.
This is the first time the daily total has exceeded 300 in Tokyo. The tally has now topped 100 for 15 straight days.
But she vowed that Tokyo will “continue to dedicate its resources to fighting this battle and to delivering a safe Games”.
“We will work closely with all parties concerned and advance preparations to hold a successful Games brimming with hope, which will serve as a symbol of humankind bonding even more strongly as the world came together as one to overcome this difficult situation.” (Xinhua)