IOC petitioned to observe moment of silence during Olympics for Hiroshima bombing

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HIROSHIMA, JAPAN - 2020/08/06: People praying at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony.
Hiroshima marks the 75th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing which killed about 150,000 people and destroyed the entire city during World War II. (Photo by Jinhee Lee/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
People pray at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony. In 2020, Hiroshima marked the 75th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing which killed about 150,000 people and destroyed the entire city during World War II. (Jinhee Lee/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

TOKYO — The former mayor of Hiroshima, Japan, is trying to convince the International Olympic Committee to observe a moment of silence during the Summer Games in accordance with the 76th anniversary of a nuclear bomb being dropped on the city.

The plan calls for the entire Olympics to stop briefly at 9:15 a.m. on August 6, the time that the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city in 1945 during World War II.

Organizers say the moment would be designed to not just remember the people who died there, or in an August 9 nuclear bombing of Nagasaki, but in all wars around the world.

Tadatoshi Akiba, 78, served three terms as mayor of the reconstructed city about 500 miles southwest of here. He has long been an advocate for the banishment of nuclear weapons and global peace in general. He created a Change.org petition to support the cause.

Akiba is looking to use the global influence of the Olympics to spread his message.

“If we don’t take action on Aug. 6, which falls during the Games, we don’t have the right to tout [the Olympics] as a festival of peace,” Akiba told the Japan Times newspaper. “A silent prayer is the least we can do.”

A request for comment from the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee has not been returned.

The IOC has generally avoided such displays, however, it made a point to note the two atomic bombing sites in the run up to the Games.

IOC chair Thomas Bach paid a visit to Hiroshima before the start of the Olympics. He observed a minute of silence and laid a wreath at the city’s Peace Memorial Park, which was constructed in an empty field that was once the heart of the business district before the bomb leveled it. Another IOC official visited Nagasaki.

Akiba served as Hiroshima’s mayor from 1999-2011 and has dedicated much of his life to trying to rid the world of nuclear weapons. This is an opportunity to use the global attention of the Olympics to further the cause and unlike a dignitary visit prior to the Games, it would be impossible to ignore.

“He should have no objections to how important it is to spread the message of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to the world,” Akiba told the Times.

Some 70,000 people died in Hiroshima in the direct bombing and tens of thousands more perished in the years after via radiation. The city has been rebuilt and is now home to about 1.2 million.

In 1964, when Japan last held the Summer Olympics, the final leg of the torch relay was run by Yoshinori Sakai, who was born in Hiroshima on the morning the bomb dropped.

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