Bright lights and fireworks mark six months to go to Tokyo 2020
The lighting of the Olympic Symbol and an elaborate fireworks show in Tokyo Bay marked Olympic year on Friday (24 January) with exactly six months to go to the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Games.
The Five Rings, which arrived on the shores of Odaiba Marine Park a week ago, were ceremoniously illuminated before fireworks - including one in the shape of the Symbol - lit up the night sky with the Rainbow Bridge fittingly taking on rainbow colours.
The Symbol will be lit until midnight everyday until to the end of the Tokyo Olympic Games on 9 August. It will then be replaced by the Paralympic Symbol - the Three Agitos.
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike was on hand to officially welcome the Olympic year alongside Japanese Olympic Committee President Yasuhiro Yamashita.
"We are now six months away," Koike said. "Tonight is an occasion for all of us to come together, looking ahead to the Tokyo Games."
"It is six months to the day of the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics. It excites me when I think about 24 July and truly looking forward to being involved." - JOC President Yasuhiro Yamashita
At the start of the six-month countdown, all but one of the eight new permanent venues - the Tokyo Aquatics Centre - are complete.
The residential buildings of the Athletes' Village were finished last month and will be showcased to the media next week.
All 26,000 beds to be used in the Village will be made almost entirely of renewable materials.
Through the second phase of ticket sales, 4.48 million tickets had been purchased by the Japanese public.
One last round of worldwide sales on a first-come, first-serve basis will be held in the spring.
Nearly 205,000 people from around the world applied for the Tokyo 2020 Volunteer Programme with 80,000 already selected.
The third and final wave of Tokyo 2020 test events will be held from February to May.
Tokyo 2020 spokesperson Masa Takaya said organisers could not be more ready.
“With the Olympic year finally here, everything is coming together", Takaya said in a statement. "We’ve spent the last seven years working toward this, and now with just six months to go we’re excited to see the pieces falling into place.
"From venues to volunteers to ticketing, preparations are exactly where we want them to be at the six-month mark”.