20-year-old Japanese superstar swimmer Rikako Ikee may not be competing at next year’s Olympic Games, but the freestyle and butterfly ace is still heavily involved in her home nation’s preparations.
The leukemia-stricken 2018 Asian Games MVP has been slowly returning to the pool with plans to compete at her first meet in over a year this October. In the meantime, she plays a starring role in the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee’s ‘One Year To Go’ video commemorating the July 23, 2021 opening ceremony date.
The video, which contained messages of support for all athletes aiming to participate at next year’s Games, was unveiled on the main screen of the Olympic Stadium, sans spectators.
Of her participation in this piece of work, Ikee said, “When I was asked to take part, I wondered if I was the right person for this occasion. I was not sure if I would be able to live up to such a role, but as discussions progressed, I realised I might not get a chance like this again, and I was very excited to accept.”
The event was not open to the public, to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but was watched around the world through a live event online.
Tokyo 2020 President Yoshiro Mori said, “I cannot imagine how athletes set to take centre 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.”
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach added, “With only one year to go, a mammoth task still lies ahead of us.
“I am deeply impressed and grateful for the extraordinary progress already being made in the preparations since the joint postponement decision.
“We are working to optimise the operations and services without touching on sports and athletes. In this way we can, together with the Organising Committee, turn these postponed Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 into an unprecedented celebration of the unity and solidarity of humankind, making them a symbol of resilience and hope. Showing that we are stronger together.”
International Paralympic Committee President Andrew Parsons commented: “It may feel like Groundhog Day celebrating this landmark again, but the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games will be well worth the wait.
“They will be a global celebration of human endeavour, resilience and hope and I am fully confident that the performances of Para athletes will entertain the world and have a profound impact on driving social inclusion in Japan and around the world.”