Japanese astronauts appointed Tokyo 2020 Torch Relay Space Ambassadors

(Left) Soichi Noguchi; (Right) Akihiko Hoshide
(Left) Soichi Noguchi; (Right) Akihiko Hoshide

Next year's Tokyo 2020 Torch Relay is bound for space.

The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Tokyo 2020) today announced the appointment of Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronauts Soichi Noguchi and Akihiko Hoshide as Tokyo 2020 Torch Relay Space Ambassadors for both the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The two astronauts will be broadcasting messages to cheer on the Olympic and Paralympic torchbearers straight from the International Space Station (ISS).

During their orbits of the earth the astronauts will also undertake various initiatives aimed at bringing an extra-terrestrial dimension to the torch relay and boosting global awareness of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games as the build-up to them continues.

Messages of hope and peace

Having Space Ambassadors to enliven the torch relay brings a new dimension to Tokyo 2020, signifying that the Games truly has no borders and is for everyone.

“I am delighted to have been appointed Tokyo 2020 Torch Relay Space Ambassador. The flame is a symbol of peace and hope and I am looking forward to sending messages of peace from the ISS and cheering on those participating in the torch relay,” Noguchi said.

Noguchi was a lead spacewalker in the space shuttle Discovery in 2005 and joined ISS onboard in Soyuz spacecraft in 2009. Later this year, he will return to the ISS for a long-term assignment as flight engineer.

On the other hand, Akihiko Hoshide was one of the three Japanese astronaut candidates selected for the ISS in 1999. He will return to the ISS in 2020 as a commander.

“I am glad to have been appointed Tokyo 2020 Torch Relay Space Ambassador. When I heard about this opportunity, I felt very honoured, and I realised how much closer the Tokyo 2020 Games are getting,” Hoshide said.

“The Olympic and Paralympic Games are great events involving top athletes from all over the world striving to win, to achieve a world record or achieve a personal best with the support of their team,” he added.

Flame of Recovery

Beginning in Fukushima prefecture, the Torch Relay will light its way to all 47 prefectures in Japan and will also serve as a “Flame of Recovery” for regions still recovering from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

“I believe that the light of the flame will encapsulate the “power of recovery” emanating from Japan's recent natural disasters, as well as the “tolerance” that allows us to accept diversity and the “dynamism” uniting local communities in a global festival, and that it will herald the sunrise of a new generation. To everyone in Japan, I say please join with us astronauts and help create a road of hope illuminated by flame,” Noguchi said.

“Astronaut Soichi and I look forward to engaging with the torch relay as it delivers the flame to the opening ceremony and helps to connect everyone's hopes for the future,” Hoshide added.