1,000km relay to honor 2011
disaster victims ends in Tokyo
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[August 07, 2019]
By Jack Tarrant and Yoko Kono
TOKYO (Reuters) - A 1000 kilometer,
two-week relay which started in Northern Japan to raise awareness
for the 2011 earthquake and tsunami ended in Tokyo on Wednesday in
One year out from the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Japan has been struggling
with rising temperatures and much of the relay has taken place in
Temperatures have been stuck above 31 Celsius (88 Fahrenheit) in and
around Tokyo, with at least 57 people dying as a result of the heat
since late July.
But that did not stop over 1,700 people from participating in the
sixth edition of the event which began on July 24.
People carrying a commemorative sash could either run or cycle as
the relay made its way from Aomori to Tokyo’s Komazawa Olympic Park,
which hosted soccer and wrestling at the 1964 Games.
Those participating wanted to send a message of support to those
still suffering in the Tohoku region as a result of the 2011
disaster, which left almost 18,000 people dead.
“My work is Tohoku-related and I wanted to return something to the
people there, so I participated (in a relay) for the first time,”
said Sorachi Kasho, shortly after getting off his bicycle.
Sydney Olympics marathon gold medallist Naoko Takahashi, who started
the relay in Aomori and also crossed the finishing line with 200
others on Wednesday, said: “There have been very warm days, but by
handing over the sash I believe people are also passing on their
warmth (to Tohoku).
[to top of second column]
Summer sunshine is seen through Olympic rings displayed at
Nihonbashi district in Tokyo, Japan August 5, 2019. Picture taken
August 5, 2019. REUTERS/Issei Kato
“I believe that it has contributed to having many smiles and
connecting people’s hearts.”
Tokyo 2020 organizers have billed next year's sporting extravaganza
as the 'reconstruction Olympics' and the first event of the Games
will take place in Fukushima, the site of a nuclear plant meltdown
following the March 2011 earthquake.
(Reporting by Jack Tarrant and Yoko Kono; editing by Pritha Sarkar)
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