International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach and former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday sent congratulatory tweets to swimmer Rikako Ikee after the leukemia survivor qualified for this summer's Tokyo Olympics.
After fans flooded social media to celebrate Ikee's achievement of making herself eligible for a spot on Japan's Olympic 4x100-meter medley relay team at the nationals on Sunday, Bach and Abe joined in by hailing the swimmer who spent 10 months hospitalized for leukemia in 2019.
"Olympians never give up. Congratulations to cancer survivor Rikako Ikee for qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics only two years after being diagnosed with leukemia. Can't wait to see you in Tokyo," Bach said in a quote posted to the IOC media Twitter account.
“Olympians never give up. Congratulations to cancer survivor Rikako Ikee for qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics only two years after being diagnosed with leukemia. Can't wait to see you in Tokyo” @rikakoikee - IOC President Thomas Bach #Tokyo2020 pic.twitter.com/fdLVRejbjG— IOC MEDIA (@iocmedia) April 4, 2021
"A heartfelt congratulations to Ms. Ikee...Surviving leukemia and becoming an Olympian. I can only imagine the extraordinary efforts you've made to get to this point," Abe said.
"And now comes the stage you dreamed of. Thank you for the inspiration and courage. I pray for your success at the Olympics," he said in a second tweet.
そして、いよいよ夢の舞台。感動と勇気をありがとう。オリンピックでのご活躍を祈念しています。— 安倍晋三 (@AbeShinzo) April 4, 2021
Ikee qualified for the Tokyo 2020 medley relay on Sunday after winning the women's 100 butterfly at the national championships.
The 20-year-old revealed her leukemia diagnosis in February 2019 and made her return to competitive swimming in August 2020.
Ever since her comeback last year, she repeatedly stressed her goal was to compete at the 2024 Games in Paris but the speed of her recovery combined with the coronavirus-necessitated Olympic postponement meant competing at the Tokyo Games became a reality.