The Olympic and Paralympic Flags were welcomed this week to Ishinomaki in Miyagi Prefecture by crowds of students from the local Teizan Elementary School. The port town of
Ishinomaki was among the most affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, and the Teizan Elementary School served as an evacuation site for many during the aftermath of the disaster. The Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee has undertaken a number of initiatives involving local children in an effort to contribute to the steady recovery of the area.
With a little over two hundred students in total, the school has been an active supporter of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. During the Rio 2016 Games, students created a collage of news articles about their favourite athletes, with handwritten messages cheering on their idols, which they displayed at the school’s gymnasium. The students are eagerly looking forward to the next Olympic and Paralympic Games being hosted in their own country, now only three years away.
At the Flag Ceremony, Akiko Sekine, a member of the Tokyo 2020 Athletes’ Commission who competed in the triathlon at the Sydney 2000 and the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, demonstrated to fourth and fifth graders how to improve their running skills.
Risa Endo, a fourth grader said: “I’m very excited about the Tokyo Olympics. My dream is to compete at an Olympic Games in the future, and I am very happy that [the flags] came to our school before the Games. I want to become a member of the track and field club in middle school and win prizes. I will train hard so that I can run faster.”
Takato Sato, a fifth grader said: “It is amazing how hard Olympic athletes work to make their dreams come true. I want to continue doing my very best in daily life just like them.”
The Olympic and Paralympic Flag Tour was designed to bring together different regions of Japan and to communicate Olympic and Paralympic values across the country in advance of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.