“I was humbled and proud to see the Olympic and Paralympic symbols in our homeland."
Just a few days after the spectacular closing of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, the Paralympic flag completed its long journey from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and arrived in Tokyo on 21 September.
The Olympic, Paralympic and Japanese national flags were hoisted and flown together at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Plaza in Shinjuku, one of the Japanese capital’s liveliest areas, marking the latest in a series of milestones bridging the two host cities.
The flag-raising ceremony gathered 3,000 spectators and was followed by the kick-off of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic flag tour. During the coming year, the Olympic and Paralympic flags will be exhibited in more than 60 sites in and around Tokyo, including some of the small islands that are part of the metropolis, and in three of the prefectures affected by the 2011 East Japan earthquake. These events are aimed at building further awareness and support for the Games throughout the country.
Paralympian Kento Masaki, who won a bronze medal in Judo at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, attended the ceremony and commented, “I was humbled and proud to see the Olympic and Paralympic symbols in our homeland. It really brought home the realisation that Tokyo will not only be the next host city, it will be the first city to ever host the Paralympic Games twice. I think this is a really significant step in building the momentum of the Paralympic Games.”
Tokyo Metropolitan Governor Yuriko Koike, President of the Japanese Olympic Committee Tsunekazu Takeda, President of the Japanese Paralympic Committee Yasushi Yamawaki and Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee CEO Toshiro Muto joined Masaki and other medallists of the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games at the ceremony.
Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto commented: “The Paralympic flag that we welcomed today in our city is a symbol of the inspiration that Paralympians bring to the world, showing us how to overcome challenges and achieve great things. That was the theme of the Tokyo 2020 presentation at the closing ceremony of the Rio Paralympic Games and we are now looking forward to carrying the Paralympians’ message across the whole of Japan.
“The flag tour is aimed at keeping the momentum growing and at embodying one of the core concepts of the Tokyo 2020 Games, which is ‘Unity in Diversity’,” added Muto.
Interest in the Tokyo 2020 Games is also strong in many other countries and made the Tokyo 2020 Japan House in Rio one of the most popular hospitality houses in the Brazilian capital during the 2016 Games. It welcomed more than 82,000 visitors from all over the world, helping to showcase Japan’s culture and raise enthusiasm towards the host country of the 2020 Games