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Tokyo, Japan, January 12, 2015 – Together with hundreds of excited spectators, 20-year-old athletes gathered to form a giant ‘2020’ and launched a 2020-day countdown that will culminate in the Games of the XXXII Olympiad opening in Tokyo.

Tokyo 2020 is welcoming today its latest milestone which coincides with Coming of Age Day in Japan. Olympians and athletes joined hundreds of young people, all aged 20 years old, to mark this special day with events in the plaza in front of the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee Headquarters as well as in areas of the Tohoku region affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Among those attending the ceremony were swimmer Kosuke Hagino, bronze medallist at the London 2012 Olympic Games. “We are extremely thankful that so many young 20-year-olds turned up to show their support, even though it was quite cold today. I really felt that there is an increasing interest in and expectations towards the 2020 Games. I would love to be able repay everyone’s support by winning a gold medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games,” he said.

Joined by 20-year-old swimmers Akihiro Yamaguchi and Daiya Seto, gymnast Akiho Sato, para-cyclist Miho Fujii, Hagino took part in a public discussion session.

Coming of Age Day (Seijin no Hi) is a Japanese public holiday established in 1948, when the country celebrates the young people who have turned 20 years old in the past year and have officially reached the age of majority. Festivities and gatherings are organised by municipal authorities across Japan on the second Monday of January each year, and young females typically dress in traditional Japanese kimonos for the occasion.

“It is a fantastic coincidence that this milestone happens to be on Coming of Age Day in Japan. 2020 days to go to Tokyo 2020 celebrated with 20-year-olds; that is a lot of young adults representing a wealth of hopes, dreams and expectations towards the Games. Tokyo

2020 is about inspiring young people through sport, and today we were delighted to have the opportunity to broaden the network of young people eagerly looking forward to the Opening Ceremony in 2020 days’ time,” said Tokyo 2020 Sports Director Koji Murofushi.

Coming of Age Day ceremonies in the disaster-affected areas of Tohoku were held with a special Olympic flavour. Olympic gold medallist Ryota Murata joined Paralympians Shinji Negi and Aki Taguchi for the celebrations in Morioka City, Iwate prefecture; London 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Satoshi Shimizu and Paralympic medallist Junichi Kawai took part in the festivities in Ishinomaki City, Miyagi prefecture; while Olympian Fumie Suguri and Paralympian Yusuke Hatsuse participated in the event in Minamisoma City, Fukushima prefecture.

Caption: 700 gathered to a giant ‘2020’ / Photo: Tokyo 2020 – Ryo Ichikawa