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Olympics: Tokyo 2020 mascots Miraitowa and Someity take center stage

Tokyo 2020 Olympic mascot "Miraitowa", left, and Paralympic mascot "Someity", right, pose with children for photographers during the mascot debut event in Tokyo Sunday, July 22, 2018. The official mascots for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics were unveiled at a ceremony on Sunday. The two mascot designs were selected by elementary schoolchildren across Japan. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic mascots' names were revealed as Miraitowa and Someity, respectively, at ceremony on Sunday.

Tokyo Olympic Organizing Committee President Yoshiro Mori and Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike did the honors, displaying the name placards as the two mascots made a public appearance roughly two years ahead of the start of the Summer Games.

Daiya Seto, the 400-meter individual medley bronze medalist at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, and Monika Seryu, who represented Japan in female paracanoe at the Rio Paralympics, also took the stage with six students from a Tokyo elementary school.

Blue-and-white Olympic mascot Miraitowa's name is based on two Japanese words representing the concept of a bright future ("mirai") that is everlasting ("towa.") The name of Someity, the pink-and-white Paralympic character, is derived from Somei Yoshino, Japan's most popular variety of cherry tree, and the English expression "so mighty."

"Even though I won a bronze medal in Rio, somehow I did not get a stuffed mascot doll," Seto said. "I want to win a gold medal so I can get a Miraitowa doll."

Although Seto said the mascot's introduction made him feel the Tokyo Olympics were around the corner, he will not have to wait until 2020 to receive one. He, Seryu and two children who subsequently attended the opening of the Mascot House each received one.

"I was lucky. In the athletes village dining hall in Rio, Tom the mascot visited, and I had a selfie with him," Seryu said. "It turned out that was quite rare, and something I'll never forget."

"Because these mascots were chosen by 6.5 million children all over Japan, I feel they are giving us a boost and it only makes me want to train harder."

Mori reminded the crowd that the Olympics are not only about individuals and that their success requires a group effort.

"The Olympics are not only for athletes like Seto," Mori said. "These mascots were selected by everyone. The Olympics are now just two years away and we're going to need everyone's effort. So I am asking for your help."

After the debut ceremony, the mascots' designer Ryo Taniguchi said, "I had an image of something like this event, but because of the searing heat today, I was afraid no one would show up. Still, when I see this crowd and the response they are getting, I am slightly overwhelmed."

With Tokyo currently undergoing a heat wave, thoughts have turned recently to the effect the weather will have on fans and competitors in 2020. Seryu found a way to manage the spirit of the moment with the temperatures.

"The introduction of the mascots two years ahead of the games, even in this kind of heat, generates momentum and makes me think we can overcome anything," she said.

Seto admitted that he needs that sense of momentum to push himself.

"It's two years to go to Tokyo 2020 and now it's already been two years since Rio," he said. "It seems like no time at all and now Tokyo is on us."

"Feeling this spirit I want to push myself, especially to do those things I would shy away from. By that I mean training. I am not a very stoic individual, and I want to be more proactive in that area."

The Mascot House, located in the first-floor atrium of Tokyo Midtown Hibiya, has a supply of mascot goods for sale and will offer people opportunities to have their pictures taken with Miraitowa and Someity.

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