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Olympics: Organizers to build recovery monuments for disaster-hit areas

(From L-R) tennis star Kei Nishikori and comedians Mikio Date and Takeshi Tomizawa, or double act Sandwichman, attend a press conference as the Tokyo 2020 Games organizing committee says it will oversee construction of three Olympic monuments made out of materials recycled from temporary housing provided in the wake of the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The Tokyo Games organizing committee said Wednesday it will oversee construction of three Olympic monuments made out of materials recycled from temporary housing provided in the wake of the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

    The Tokyo 2020 Recovery Monument project is the latest effort in the organizer's "Reconstruction Olympics" legacy, which aims to show Japan's recovery from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that devastated the northeastern part of the country.

    The project is being run in partnership with the Tokyo metropolitan government and Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures -- the three prefectures worst hit by the disasters. Students from Tokyo University of the Arts came up with the design of the monuments.

    Upon completion, junior high and high school students in the affected areas will write messages of appreciation on the monuments to those involved in recovery efforts, as well as encouragement for Olympic athletes.

    The monuments will be installed at Olympic venues during the games, which kick off next July, and athletes will respond with their own messages of support for those in the disaster-hit areas. The monuments will be relocated to those areas after the games conclude.

    Lixil Group, a Japanese manufacturer of building materials and housing fixtures and games sponsor, is providing recycled aluminum from windows and other components of the temporary housing that will be used to construct the monument.

    The aluminum was handed over by Japanese tennis star Kei Nishikori, an official ambassador of Lixil Group, during a press conference in Tokyo.

    "I think it's a very good idea to use (the temporary housing) in this way to make a monument that supports athletes," said Nishikori, who won a bronze medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

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