Japan are holding small celebrations across the country to mark one year until the postponed Olympic Games will commence in Tokyo.
Throughout the day, Olympic supporters will be coming together to mark the date with a series of activities taking place digitally.
The small event will occur at an empty National Stadium in Tokyo after the public were barred following a new surge of coronavirus infections.
Olympic countdown boards have also been reset around Tokyo, where digital signs display the message “365 days to go to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.”
Though the city of Tokyo should be flooded with thousands of spectators waving their nation's flags, the cancellation of the games for the first time since World War II has dampened the mood amongst sports fans.
However, Japanese and Olympic officials wish to highlight the message, that the Games will go ahead in 2021, serving as a symbol of the world’s recovery from the COVID-19 virus.
Commenting on today’s important milestone, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said in a statement:
“With only one year to go, a mammoth task still lies ahead of us. I would like to thank our Japanese partners and friends, headed by Prime Minister Abe Shinzo, Tokyo 2020 President Mori Yoshiro, Governor Koike Yuriko and all the athletes.
“Without their solidarity and support, we could not have taken this historic joint decision to postpone the Olympic Games. I am grateful for the extraordinary progress already being made in the preparations.
“We agree that we have to adapt the planning of the Olympic Games to the requirements of the global crisis, while maintaining the unique spirit and message that define our mission.”
The decision to delay the Games highlighted the scale of the pandemic and threw athletes' training into chaos, forcing the cancellation of qualifiers.
Since then, restrictions have been eased across much of Europe as infections and deaths from the virus decline. However, in major countries like the United States and India, the virus remains rampant.
“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 into a celebration of the unity and solidarity of humankind.”
July 23rd also marks the start of the #StrongerTogether campaign. This will recognise the importance of solidarity and unity during COVID-19, acknowledging the power of sport, and the Olympic Games.
The Olympic flame will lead the day's activities and help shine a light on the resilience and strength of the athletes, as they continue to prepare for the Games.