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People in the Tohoku region devastated by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami expressed hopes Wednesday that a rescheduled Tokyo Olympics will showcase to the world next year their progress toward reconstruction.

The International Olympic Committee said Tuesday that the 2020 Tokyo Games would be postponed for up to a year in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The games have been billed as the “Reconstruction Olympics.”

“A postponed Tokyo Olympics must be held in a perfect form,” said Noriyuki Suzuki, 55, a resident of Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, who lost his 12-year-old daughter in the tsunami.

Suzuki was waiting to run as an Olympic torch bearer in a disaster-hit area. “I’m a bit relieved” after hearing that the games were postponed, he said, referring to reported plans to carry the Olympic flame in a lantern by car instead of by runners in the torch relay.

“We can communicate our respective thoughts to many people by fulfilling our roles as torch runners,” he said. “The games can’t be called the Reconstruction Olympics if the flame is transported by car.”

“I will make preparations over the next year to enter my key stage,” Suzuki said.

Kimiko Taguchi, who lives in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture, after having to evacuate from her home in the town of Tomioka after the March 2011 nuclear accident, said that although the postponement was regrettable, it was an appropriate decision in terms of protecting people’s lives.

Taguchi, 71, is not considering returning to her home, but she plans to watch the torch relay in her hometown. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity to see my friends there.”

A 37-year-old housewife who lives near a stadium in the city of Fukushima that will be used for baseball and softball matches during the Tokyo Olympics said that there was no choice but to postpone the games.

“It was the right decision and I was feeling that the event would be postponed,” she said.

“With disaster areas still suffering damage from harmful rumors, I want a postponed games to show the progress of reconstruction,” she said.

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