(ATR) Tokyo 2020 organisers marked the fourth anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami that killed more than 15,800 people.
Olympic chiefs reaffirmed their commitment to supporting the recovery of the affected areas and to showing the world how sport has contributed to uniting Japan.
A minute’s silence was observed at Tokyo 2020 headquarters on Wednesday.
Tokyo 2020 sports director Koji Murofushi attended a commemoration ceremony in Ishinomaki, one of the affected cities in Miyagi prefecture, before meeting with local school pupils. Murofushi and local children cleaned the 1964 Olympic Cauldron, which is currently housed in a public park in Ishinomaki City since demolition work began on the National Stadium last year.
Tokyo 2020 is planning various projects aimed at assisting the recovery of the disaster-affected areas and engaging the local community in the delivery of the Olympics. These include the Olympic Torch Relay and a range of cultural and educational activities.
The 14th Youth Leadership Camp is currently taking place in the Tohoku region. Hosted by the Japanese sports ministry and the United Nations, it brings together 30 youngparticipants from 17 countries to share their own experiences with local communities and will offer training on how to use sport as a rehabilitation tool in areas affected by natural disasters.
"This is a very special event for us, as it will remember the terrible disaster that struck this area four years ago and left the local area in need of redevelopment," said Wilfried Lemke, UN special adviser on sport for development and peace.
"Sport has been instrumental in the regeneration of this community, and through the Youth Leadership Camp, we plan to demonstrate how sport is extremely effective at addressing certain social issues that are related to post natural disaster communities."
Murofushi added: "I hope all these collective efforts will inspire people of all ages and demonstrate the power of sport to act as a force for positive change. I believe that over the last four years we have already seen the important role that sport can play in society. This is this inspiration we want to share in Tokyo in 2020."
Reported by Mark Bisson
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