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Aomori-Tokyo relay starts to promote disaster-hit areas

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Sydney Olympic gold medalist Naoko Takahashi, center, takes part in a 1,000-kilometer road relay between Aomori Prefecture and Tokyo on Wednesday.

The Yomiuri ShimbunAOMORI — With Wednesday marking just one year until the opening of the Tokyo Olympics, a relay event has begun from Aomori to Tokyo to support reconstruction of the areas hit by the 2011 disaster.

The “Discover Tomorrow 1,000-km Relay to Tokyo” is organized by the Tokyo metropolitan government and other entities, and has been held annually since 2013. This year’s relay is the last.

Over 15 days through Aug. 7, a total of about 1,900 runners and cyclists will follow the 1,300-kilometer course that travels partly through areas damaged by the Great East Japan Earthquake.

During the starting ceremony held in a park in Aomori, Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said in a live telecast: “The relay this year is the last ahead of the Tokyo Games. I’d like all of you to make your best efforts.”

Naoko Takahashi, the gold medalist in the 2000 Sydney Olympic women’s marathon, was among about 120 runners who set off at the sound of a starting gun.

“All the runners were able to bring their hearts together toward reconstruction,” Takahashi said. “Today marks the start of the one-year countdown to the Olympics. I want lots of people to get excited about it.”

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