President HASHIMOTO Seiko address to the IOC Executive Board

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“As an athlete and as President, I hope to contribute to the delivery of a 'Safety First' Games for stakeholders and citizens alike, a Games that athletes can participate in with confidence and pride.”

Hashimoto Seiko, the President of the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, addressed the IOC Executive Board on 24 February 2021 and announced three strategic policies, focusing on COVID-19 countermeasures, gender equality and the 'Tokyo Model' as the first Games in history to be successfully held following a postponement.

In regards to gender equality, President Hashimoto reported the plan to launch a Gender Equality Promotion Team within Tokyo 2020. Under the leadership of Sports Director KOTANI Mikako, the team will move forward with a sense of urgency. Tokyo 2020 will do everything possible in the short time remaining before the Games to build a movement including athletes and partners alike, so that in future we can look back and point to this moment as a major turning point for Japan.

Next month, on 25 March, the Olympic Torch Relay will begin in Fukushima. It will go on to connect all 47 prefectures of Japan in the lead-up to Tokyo 2020. Hashimoto explained how "it is critical that the Torch Relay take place under comprehensive COVID-19 countermeasures that put safety first."

She added, "We have formulated a set of guidelines for COVID-19 countermeasures during the Torch Relay, and I believe it is especially important to work closely with each prefectural governor as we make preparations to conduct regular health inspections of Torch Relay runners, ensure the health and behavioural management of staff and, of course, prevent crowds along the roadside."

The guidelines were drafted at the end of last year, then shared with each prefecture for feedback. They will be publicly released on 25 February, exactly one month before the Torch Relay begins, allowing us to share them widely and gain the understanding and agreement of the general public.

Ever since last year, when the decision was made to postpone the Games, the Olympic Flame has been carefully protected, and it continues to burn unceasingly as a true “flame of hope”. Last autumn, the Flame was part of an exhibit at the Japan Olympic Museum, before traveling to exhibits around the country. At every stop, visitors were careful to pay close attention to COVID-19 countermeasures and keep distance from each other, so that they could safely view the Flame.

There is no doubt the Torch Relay plays a vital role in building momentum in the lead-up to the opening of the Games. We hope to give the Relay a perfect start as the embodiment of the concept ‘Hope Lights Our Way’.

"As an athlete and as President, I hope to contribute to the delivery of a 'Safety First' Games for stakeholders and citizens alike, a Games that athletes can participate in with confidence and pride.”, she concluded.