By Michael Pavitt

Koji Murofushi cleaned the Tokyo 1964 Olympic Cauldron with school children ©Shugo TakemiTokyo 2020 have marked the fourth anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake with a minute's silence at their headquarters, while Sports Director Koji Murofushi attended a commemoration ceremony in Ishinomaki.

Ishinomaki was one of the cities in the Miyagi Prefecture affected by the disaster, with the earthquake's epicentre of the coast of Tōhoku in 2011 and caused a major tsunami.

Murofushi met with local junior high school and high school students in the city to highlight Tokyo 2020's commitment to support the recovery of affected areas and showing how sport could unite revitalise Japan.

"I have known some of the children for almost four years now," Murofushi, the Olympic gold medallist in the hammer at Athens 2004, said.

"I have watched them growing up and I can certainly testify that their mindsets have become much more positive over that time.

Koji Murofushi helped youngsters in the earthquake region of Ishinomaki clean the Olympic Cauldron lit for Tokyo 1964, which is currently located in the region ©FacebookKoji Murofushi helped youngsters in the earthquake region of Ishinomaki clean the Olympic Cauldron lit for Tokyo 1964, which is currently located in the region ©Facebook

Alongside the students, Murofushi cleaned the Cauldron lit for the 1964 Olympics, the last time the Games were staged in the Japanese capital, which is currently being housed in a public park in the city, while the demolition of the National Stadium in Tokyo takes place.

"When the Olympic Cauldron was in the National Stadium in Tokyo, I used to clean it once a year and it became a kind of tradition," said Murofushi. 

"With it currently being in Tohoku, this year it is even more important for me to keep the tradition alive."

Tokyo 2020 are also planning projects aimed at assisting recovery efforts and engaging the population with the Olympics and Paralympic Games, including the Torch Relay, and several cultural and educational activities.

Additionally, the focus is not just on a national projects, with the Tōhoku region currently staging the 14th Youth Leadership Camp, which bring 30 young people together from 17 different nations to share experiences, gain training on how to how to use sport as rehabilitation in areas affected by natural disasters.

The camp will also see the participants visit the disaster affected area and learn about actions undertaken in the recovery process.

The Miyagi Prefecture is hosting a Youth Leadership Camp to celebrate four years since the  Great East Japan Earthquake ©Jigoro Kano Memorial International Sport InstituteThe Miyagi Prefecture is hosting a Youth Leadership Camp to celebrate four years since the  Great East Japan Earthquake ©Jigoro Kano Memorial International Sport Institute

"This is a very special event for us, as it will remember the disaster that struck this area four years ago and left the area in need of redevelopment," said Wilfried Lemke, UN Special Advisor on Sport for Development and Peace, who are working in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology to host the camp.

"Sport has been instrumental in the regeneration of this community, and through the Youth Leadership Camp, we plan to demonstrate how sport is extremely effective at addressing certain social issues that are related to post natural disaster communities.

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