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A floating set of Olympic rings was reinstalled in Tokyo Bay on Tuesday, having been removed nearly four months earlier after the COVID-19 pandemic forced officials to postpone the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games by one year.

The 15-meter-tall, 69-ton structure — balanced atop a barge pulled upriver by a tugboat from a factory in Yokohama, where the display was built — was first installed in January to mark six months until the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Games.

Two months later, Japan made history as host nation of the first Olympiad ever rescheduled during peacetime.

The symbol was removed in early August for maintenance, according to the Tokyo Organising Committee.

Its reinstallation reflects their determination, for better or worse, to move forward in lockstep with other Olympic bodies and the government to hold the games next summer.

Planning is underway to hold the Tokyo Games in July 2021 despite the ever-present concern that hosting a global sporting event during an ongoing pandemic is a recipe for disaster.

A tugboat tows the Olympic rings upriver Tuesday from a factory in Yokohama where the structure was built. | RYUSEI TAKAHASHI
A tugboat tows the Olympic rings upriver Tuesday from a factory in Yokohama where the structure was built. | RYUSEI TAKAHASHI

Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, made a four-day visit to Tokyo in mid-November — his first to the country since the games were postponed in March — during which he made the case that, with rapid testing and a vaccine, the Olympic and Paralympic Games can be held next summer successfully and without reigniting the pandemic, if case numbers have dropped by then.

During Bach’s visit, officials and organizers made it clear that all parties are moving forward together to hold the games in eight months.

The 2020 symbol installed Tuesday will remain in place until after the closing ceremony of the Paralympics.

The games will officially begin when the Olympic torch relay sets off in March. Originally the torch was to travel through all 47 prefectures, in a nationwide tour that made its way to Tokyo for the opening ceremony in late July.

While organizers have announced a number of revisions in a “simplified” plan to hold the games with virus countermeasures and reduced spectator attendance, they have not said if the torch relay will be held, when or in what form.

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