Rikako Ikee Set For Tokyo 2020 Olympics Countdown Special As Smiling Face Of Home Games

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Rikako Ikee's beautiful photo shoot with sponsor and supporter SK-II - Photo Courtesy: Rikako Ikee and SK-II Instagram

Rikako Ikee, the Japanese swimming ace who has her sights set on the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris after recovering from leukemia, is to feature in a one-year Tokyo Olympic countdown event, according to a source speaking to Kyodo News in Japan.

The 19-year-old is expected to address Olympic athletes in a keynote speech in the July 23 closed-door event at the National Stadium, the main venue for the sporting extravaganza, the source said.

The news comes as Rikako Ikee, who would have been one of the Poster Girls in action her home Olympic Games had illness not intervened, thanked one of her sponsors, SK-II, the Japanese cosmetics firm, for a photo shoot showing the swimmer in beautiful new light at the dawn of a new day in her life.

Now in rehabilitation following treatment for leukemia, Ikee is captured smiling under short hair growing back, her strength returning, her first swim in the vault of delightful experience she has expressed her gratitude for.

Ikee shared some of the lovely shots with her 340,000 Instagram followers:

SK-II’s Official Instagram features several more images of the shoot with the caption: Rikako Ikee – A Story of Beauty in Strength & Resilience:

https://www.instagram.com/skii/?hl=en

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Ikee-san has showed us what it means to be strong, to be true to herself and to not give up no matter how tough it seems. She has shaped her own destiny by choice, and that is a true testament to what we believe at the heart of our brand. Thank you @ikee.rikako, we are incredibly humbled for this opportunity to be supporting you on this important milestone. —- 池江璃花子さんは、私たちに「強さとは何か」を教えてくれました。ありのままの自分を受け入れ、愛すること。そして挑戦し続けること。彼女が自らの手で選ぶ生き方こそ、私たちSK-Ⅱが目指す姿です。 池江さん @ikee.rikako 、この度はありがとうございました。池江さんの大切なストーリーにSK-Ⅱがご一緒させていただけたことを心から光栄に思います。

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The Tokyo 2020 Olympics have been postponed to July 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Last week, Masanori Takaya, a spokesperson for the organizing committee, said: “We won’t be holding any special events that attract crowds of people.”

However, the Kyodo report today suggests that something special, featuring Ikee and others, will mark the one-year countdown to a Games that will be one of the most anticipated moments of a year in which the world will hope to be climbing out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ikee was discharged from the hospital last December after 10 months of treatment. She made her diagnosis public in February last year. At the World Swimming Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, in July, Ikee’s fellow butterfly aces, sent a heartwarming message from the podium after the 100m final in which the 2018 Pan Pacific Champion would surely have been a medal contender.

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Emma McKeon, Maggie McNeil, Sarah Sjostrom – ‘fly aces send heartfelt wishes and pay tribute to the absent Rikako Ikee on the podium at the 2019 World Championships in Gwangju – Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

Canadian Maggie MacNeil produced an upset victory over Olympic and defending World champion from Sweden, Sarah Sjostrom, in the 100m final, the bronze going to Australian Emma McKeon. The medallists posed with palms outstretched, the message among hearts penned on their hands “Rikako Ikee – Never Give Up”.

Ikee has battled an acute lymphocytic form of leukemia that meant she had to undergo chemotherapy.

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