POSTED: August 21st 2009

Japan's Olympic medallists lead swimathon race for Tokyo 2016

Marathon swimmers set off in front of the Rainbow Bridge / Japan Swimming Federation
Marathon swimmers set off in front of the Rainbow Bridge / Japan Swimming Federation

SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT / Sports Features Communications

TOKYO, Aug 21: Olympic Champion Ai Shibata led the way as more than 70 swimmers plunged into Tokyo Bay for a swim marathon to galvanise more public focus and support on the city’s 2016 Olympic bid.

Shibata, an Athens winner in 2004 and an ambassador for the 2016 bid, was also joined by Olympians Tatsuya Kinugasa, a competitor in 1992 and 1996, and Naoko Kawashima, synchronized swimming silver medallist in Athens.

The swimmers started from the Odaiba district beach in front of the Rainbow Bridge for a 1,500-metre open-water swim for both male and female competitors. Spectators were also offered Tokyo 2016 venue tours while Daichi Suzuki, a gold medallist in Seoul in 1988, gave an  address about the power of sport to bring entertain and insire.

Shibata said: “I was thrilled to join my fellow Olympians and all of the other motivated young people and we all look forward to cheering on the elite athletes if Tokyo is selected for 2016.”

The spectacle was praised by Dr Ichiro Kono, chair and ceo of Tokyo 2016. He said: “It is great to see Japan's passion for sport and the Tokyo bid being showcased through yet another major public event so everybody has been able to experience both sport and our venues plan.”

The International Olympic Committee decides on October 2 in Copenhagen between the rival 2016 hosting bids from Chicago, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo.

Keywords · Tokyo 2016 · Olympic Games · Kono · Ai Shibata · marathon swim

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