IOC president Thomas Bach travels to Hiroshima to mark the first day of the Olympic Truce ahead of Tokyo 2020.
After laying a wreath at the park’s cenotaph in the rain, Bach gave a speech calling for the world to unite in creating a more peaceful future.
“Today, I am here to remember all the people who are commemorated at this very place. Today I am here to pay respect to Hiroshima, as a city of peace and to all the people of Hiroshima. Today I am here to reaffirm to all of them our peace mission in the Olympic Movement.
“In seven days from now, the Olympic athletes from 205 National Olympic Committees and the IOC Refugee Olympic Team will send a resounding message from Tokyo and Japan to the world: we need more solidarity. More solidarity within societies and more solidarity among societies. Without solidarity, there is no peace. In this way, the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 will be a beacon of hope for a better and more peaceful future.”
His one-day trip to the city destroyed by the first atomic bomb in 1945 had been criticized by some as politically motivated. Others questioned whether Bach should be traveling to Hiroshima from Tokyo while the capital is under a Covid-19 state of emergency.
The Associated Press reported that dozens of protesters near the Atomic Bomb Dome held signs that read “Cancel the Olympics” and “No Bach.” Fences had been erected to restrict regular visitors from entering certain areas of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.
Bach also took a tour of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and met 82-year-old survivor Fumiaki Kajiya.
The IOC, in a statement, said “President Bach was inspired by his testimony and by his commitment to peace and his great support for the Olympic Games and their peace mission. In fact, the former teacher had expressed his support as a torch bearer for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020”.
Bach was accompanied by IOC Member in Japan Morinari WATANABE and by Tokyo 2020 president Seiko Hashimoto.
At the same time, John Coates, Chair of the IOC Coordination Commission for Tokyo 2020, visited Nagasaki. He was joined by IOC Member in Japan Yasuhiro Yamashita, and by Toshiaki Endo, the Vice-President of the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee.
Written by Gerard Farek