How Tokyo 2020’s Recovery Monuments are showcasing the healing power of sport

13 Jul 2021
IOC News Tokyo 2020 Legacy

To commemorate the enduring connection between the regions affected by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and the rest of the world, and to illustrate the healing power of sport, Tokyo 2020 has today unveiled three Recovery Monuments. 

Recovery Monuments

Created by students at the Tokyo University of the Arts, the monuments were inspired by the Tokyo 2020 concept of “Recovery and Reconstruction Games”. They carry messages from students from Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima – the three regions most affected by the earthquake – expressing their gratitude for the assistance their prefectures received in the aftermath of the disaster, as well as sending support to the athletes competing at Tokyo 2020.

In addition, a special “Recovery and Reconstruction Games” booth has been opened at the Tokyo 2020 Main Press Centre today. It highlights how the three prefectures have recovered from the disaster, as well as some of the Tokyo 2020 Games-related initiatives aimed at supporting their recovery efforts.

During the Games, the monuments will be installed close to the Olympic Stadium, and will then be moved to the three prefectures by the end of the year.

Recovery Monuments Tokyo 2020

Carried out with the cooperation and advice of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the project began in early 2019, with undergraduates at the Tokyo University of the Arts - an institution which has spawned many talented young artists - creating a range of possible designs for the monuments. Diamond designs were conceived for the Iwate and Miyagi prefectures, while a face-in-the-hole structure was created for Fukushima. This last idea came from the face-in-the-hole boards typically seen at tourist attractions round the world.

In the summer of 2019, a workshop was organised, and students at middle and high schools in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima were brought in to vote on the final three designs, to determine which one would represent their prefecture, and create messages to be left on the monuments. The students said that the experience made them feel part of the upcoming Games, and that it would “bring energy” to their prefectures.

“I am very happy to be involved in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics through the creation of the monuments,” said Aiko Sanjo, a third-year student at Asakareimei High School in Fukushima Prefecture, who left the message “Let’s draw further.”

Recovery Monuments Tokyo 2020

“I crafted this message in the hope that people all over the world can fulfil their dreams. I sincerely hope that the athletes will realise their dreams, and that the people in the disaster-affected areas will move forward with hope for reconstruction.”

Reflecting the importance of sustainability for Tokyo 2020, and its sustainability concept entitled “Be better, together - For the planet and the people”, the three monuments, each two metres high, have been created using recycled aluminium. The material was taken from temporary housing units which were erected in the aftermath of the 2011 tsunami to assist those who had been left homeless. Thus, the monuments aim to transform the remnants of 2011 disaster into symbols of sustainability and hope for the future.

Athletes competing at Tokyo 2020 will also be able to contribute. Their handwritten autographs will be cast on plates, which will then be mounted on the monuments as a lasting memory of the Games. The initial plate will carry an autograph from IOC President Thomas Bach, expressing a message of gratitude and inspiration from the world to the three disaster-affected regions.

Recovery Monuments Tokyo 2020

After the Games, the monuments will be moved from the Olympic Stadium and go on permanent display in the three prefectures to showcase the power of sport as a legacy of Tokyo 2020 for future generations. They will be located in the Otsuchi Town Cultural Exchange Centre in Iwate; Miyagi General Athletics Park in Miyagi; and the National Training Centre J-Village in Fukushima – the starting point of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay.

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