The Yomiuri ShimbunJapanese Olympians and Paralympians who won medals at the Rio de Janeiro Games were hailed in a parade in central Tokyo on Friday in Ginza’s Chuo-dori.
It was the first joint parade of Japan’s Olympic and Paralympic athletes, who waved to the passionate crowds.
About 800,000 people lined the roadsides to see the parade.
Japan won 41 Olympic medals in Rio — a record high for the country — including 12 golds. Japanese Paralympic athletes won 10 silver and 14 bronze medals for a total of 24.
According to a parade organizer, 87 of the 96 medalists participated in Friday’s event. The others could not attend for reasons including travel.
A pre-parade ceremony took place near Toranomon Hills. Women’s wrestling star Saori Yoshida, the captain of Japan’s athletic delegation to Rio who won a silver medal, greeted the crowds.
“This is the first joint parade with the Paralympians. I’m happy to parade with them. There aren’t usually chances to interact as members of Team Japan,” said Yoshida, 34.
The medalists paraded in vehicles including open-top buses, from which they waved to the crowds for about 2.5 kilometers between the Ginza 8-chome crossing and the Nihonbashi-Muromachi district.
About 500,000 people turned out for a parade after the 2012 London Games. The organizer extended Friday’s parade from the previous 1 kilometer to allow more people see it.
“I feel like I became a superstar,” said gymnast Kohei Uchimura afterward.
Uchimura, who won double gold in the men’s all-around and team event, added: “I have nothing but gratitude for the people who congratulated me and said well done. I’ll do my best to qualify for the Tokyo Games in four years and do well enough to deserve a bigger parade than today.”
[Released on Oct. 6, 2016]