As Monday marked three years to go to the opening ceremony of the 2020 TokyoOlympics, momentum for the games is gathering in Japan with a number of promotional events held across the country.
In Aomori Prefecture, northeastern Japan, a 1,000-kilometer citizens' relay to Tokyo was launched Monday, joined by former Olympic medalists. In the 15-day event, about 1,800 runners and cyclists will run through the area devastated by the 2011 massive earthquake and tsunami before reaching the capital on Aug. 7.
Olympic marathon gold medalist Naoko Takahashi and Olympic wrestling champion Kaori Icho took part in the relay. "Six years on from the disaster, I felt our hearts are together. I hope we can all move forward," Takahashi said after running the first 1.7-km zone.
At the event's opening ceremony, which was connected live to the Tokyo metropolitan government, Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike told participants, "I want you to deliver hope. We want to continue to boost the mood for the 2020 Games over the next three years without getting out of breath."
Between July 24 and Sept. 6, when the Olympics and Paralympics will be held in 2020, Tokyo metropolitan government officials will perform calisthenics together in the afternoon.
In Chiba Prefecture, east of Tokyo, professional surfers showed off their skills Monday at the Tsurigasaki Beach, the site selected as the Olympics surfing venue. Masaya Mabuchi, mayor of Ichinomiya town, which hosts the beach, collected trash at the site together with event participants, saying, "Let's welcome people from around the world."
The central government has designated July 24 as a day for telecommuting in a bid to ease traffic congestion on the day the Olympics opens by encouraging people to work at home.
More than 900 businesses and organizations joined the initiative on Monday and the government plans to continue the practice on July 24 every year through 2020.
As part of the move, Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Sanae Takaichi, who led the initiative, held an online conference on Monday with officials of her ministry and private company employees working at home.