Tokyo, 22 July 2008 – More than 40,000 Japanese people lit up the sky at the heart of Tokyo in another huge show of support for Japan’s Bid to host the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

This year’s annual Lantern by the Bay Festival was billed as a Tokyo 2016 support event at the proposed site of the Olympic Triathlon competition. More than 50,000 lanterns flickered in the night’s sky as a symbol of hope for the Bid that promises to unite the 2016 Games with the greatest urban and environmental transformation ever seen.

Travelling from across Japan to attend the waterfront event, the supporters created 12 special illuminations – including images of a swimmer, a boat and a diver – to support Tokyo 2016’s Bid. To underline Tokyo 2016’s commitment to the environment, a green lamp-making session using recycled materials was held prior to the start of the Festival.

The highlight of the evening was the impression of the Musubi knot: the logo that symbolises Tokyo 2016’s ‘Musubi Promise’ to unite Green with 2016, youth with sport, old and new Japan, heritage and innovation and the Games with city life.

The event, staged at the Odaiba Marine Park, attracted numerous high profile volunteers, including Japanese Olympic swimmer, Tomoko Hagiwara.

Tomoko Hagiwara said: “I am delighted to be a part of the huge number of Japanese people who lit up the sky in support of Tokyo 2016. As an Olympian and a member of the Tokyo 2016 Athletes’ Commission, I take great pleasure in seeing the same passion amongst my fellow countrymen and women as I hold for the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

“The thrill of competing at Sydney 2000 was the highlight of my career. I joined the Tokyo 2016 Athletes Commission because I believe that staging the 2016 Games at the heart of my home city of Tokyo would be a truly inspirational event with a clear long-term legacy for the Olympic Movement.”

Dr Ichiro Kono, Chairman and CEO of Tokyo 2016, said: “It’s an honour to once again see thousands of Japanese people coming out to events to support Tokyo 2016. This is just a taste of the excitement for the Olympic Movement in Japan. This passion builds on the support of more than 70% of the Japanese population who already back our Bid.

“By bringing together people of all ages and generating a real sense of unity and celebration amongst the local community, the Lantern at the Bay Festival is an early example of how Tokyo 2016 will meet the commitments of our Musubi Promise and host unique Games that will leave an incredible legacy for generations to come.”

For further information, please contact:
Mihoko Nakagawa (Ms), Director, International Communications, Tokyo 2016
Masa Takaya (Mr), Manager, International Communications, Tokyo 2016