Speech by Tokyo 2020 President Hashimoto at the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020

Tokyo, 23 July 2021 – The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Tokyo 2020) is pleased to share the speech given today by Tokyo 2020 President HASHIMOTO Seiko during the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

“In the presence of His Majesty the Emperor of Japan, I am pleased to welcome you to the opening of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

To President of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach, and IOC Members, to our guests of honour from all over the world, and to the people of the world who are watching this opening ceremony, welcome to Japan, welcome to Tokyo. I greet you all from the bottom of my heart.

Following the challenges of the first ever postponement in Olympic history, the Tokyo 2020 Games finally open here today. Hopes have been connected one by one by many hands, and we are now in a position to welcome this day. The whole world has faced immense challenges with COVID-19. I would like to express my gratitude and respect to all essential workers including those in medical services and others around the world who have shown such determination in overcoming these challenges. I would also like to offer my thanks to the people of Japan for hosting the Games, as well as to the International Olympic Committee, the Government of Japan, and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and other organisations for working so hard to make them happen.

10 years ago, when we decided to bid for the Olympic Games, many people in Japan faced profound difficulties, and were in mourning following the massive Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami. Many of the affected communities were losing the will to pick themselves up and move forward. People from all over the world extended a helping hand, encouraging us to “Move forward together!”. Now, 10 years later, we can show you the extent of Japan’s recovery. We are most grateful to all of you.

At that time, the question arose about how sport and the athletes could best play a positive role in society. Today, with the world facing great challenges, some are again questioning the power of sport and the value of the Olympic Games.

Citizens of the world and the people of Japan are with us in spirit as athletes from around the globe gather here at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo under the Olympic flag. Here is a vision for the future, one that embodies ‘Unity in Diversity’, one of peace and respect for one another. This is the power of sport, and an expression of the fundamental values of the Olympic Movement. This is its essence.

And here is a vision of our ideals of peace. With the Olympic Games has begun a period of peace, an ‘Olympic truce’. To those for whom peace is still a distant ideal, even a glimpse of the reality of it may be a source of solace and relief. This, too, is an important Olympic value, and one perhaps unique to the Games. I would like to offer my prayers for peace to those who are still suffering the pain of war and conflict.

To the athletes, thank you for gathering here on this stage. We have been encouraged by your commitment in spite of all the difficulties you’ve had to endure. You have always moved forward and done your very best. As a fellow athlete, I offer you my heartfelt gratitude.

You have always believed in yourselves, and you have made tremendous efforts in what you do. You will treasure these moments for ever.

Step onto this stage with confidence. Now is the time to show the power of sport and of athletes like yourselves. I believe these strengths will bring hope to people, and will unite the world. The world is waiting for you!

After more than half a century, the Olympic Games have returned to Tokyo. Now we will do everything in our power to make this Games a source of pride for generations to come.

Thank you.”

For more information:

Tokyo 2020 Online Press Room

International Communications

Email: mpc_pressoffice_en@tokyo2020.jp

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

As a service to our readers, Around the Rings will provide verbatim texts of selected press releases issued by Olympic-related organizations, federations, businesses and sponsors.

These press releases appear as sent to Around the Rings and are not edited for spelling, grammar or punctuation.