Hanyu Yuzuru to Japan: Stay home, and stay strong
Two-time reigning Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu on Friday (17 April) joined the chorus of athletes worldwide urging all to stay home and stay strong in combating COVID-19.
Hanyu took to the Twitter account of the Japanese Olympic Committee in sending his message on a day when the Japanese government declared a nationwide state of emergency in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
"I think we are all going through a difficult time right now, leading a life with many restrictions", Hanyu said. "I realize it is a trying period for everyone, but please stay at home and help prevent further spread of the virus.
"Us athletes, we are able to do what we do because of the support we receive. Sometimes it can feel like pressure but without question, it is the support from you all that helps us get by".
The Sochi 2014 and PyeongChang 2018 gold medallist paid particular tribute to the hospital workers fighting the disease on the front line and to those suffering from the illness.
Japan's medical system continues to teeter on the brink of collapse. As of Friday, there were 9,167 confirmed infections and 148 deaths, per the Japanese health ministry. The same day, Tokyo set a daily record for confirmed cases with 201.
Hanyu, a native of Miyagi Prefecture, cited his own experiences in surviving the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami that levelled the eastern coastline of Japan.
"I just want to thank from the bottom of my heart all those who are in a battle against the unknown in the circumstances that we’re in", he said. "This might seem like pressure to them, but I will be cheering them on from afar.
"But above all, to the people who are suffering from this illness: I realize the pain must be unbearable and the fear unimaginable. It has to be very difficult to find the light at the end of a dark, dark tunnel.
"Yet like the evening skies during March 11, you can see the light only because there is darkness. Please trust those around you and turn to them when and where necessary.
"And I hope the day when we can converse again with a smile on our faces arrives soon".
Hanyu was not alone sharing words of encouragement for those who risk their lives fighting against the COVID-19. Japanese athletes launched an online project featuring their home workouts and words of encouragement.
Badminton world champion Momota Kento appealed for everyone’s contribution to contain the spread of the virus. “The awareness of everyone is necessary,” he wrote on Twitter.
Fencer Emura Misaki demonstrated how to do abdominal work at home.
The Japanese rhythmic gymnastics team has also sent their message of gratitude to those work work on the frontline.