Medals made from wood debris from last year’s tsunami were given to all of Japan’s Olympic Games participants, as a good luck and motivation message before the competition.
The medals were made by school children in the northeast region, the worst hit by last year’s natural disaster. They were handed over at a send-off ceremony in Tokyo on Saturday and each of the 518 members of the Japanese delegation, , of which nearly 300 athletes, will get one.
The medals, 4.5 centimetres in diameter, have the logo of the Japanese Olympic Committee branded on. Ribbons attached to the medals read messages like “Waiting for your medals” and “Bring back a lot of medals, please”.
“The debris had been a symbol of our sorrow but it has now taken on a new life,” said 14-year-old Mizuho Sato, who participated in the making of the medals.
Yukifumi Murakami, who won a bronze medal in world men’s javelin competition in 2009, said he was very impressed by the children’s gesture. “I am really moved. I must repay what has been given to me,” the 32-year-old athlete said.