July 29, 2021—When medalists take to the podium at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, each receives—along with gold, silver, or bronze—one of 5,000 victory bouquets created for the event. Those posies, composed of blooms grown mainly in areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, brim with symbolism and hope.
“The beautiful bouquets … have been chosen carefully by the Olympic organizers in Japan,” says Vicky Salmon, head florist at Interflora.“The victory bouquets include eustomas and Solomon’s seals grown in Fukushima, sunflowers from Miyagi, gentians from Iwate, and aspidistras from Tokyo.” According to the Olympic committee, here are the reasons behind each selection.
The meaning behind each flower
Sunflowers from Miyagi: Parents who lost children to the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011 returned to the area to plant sunflowers on the hill in Miyagi where children sought safety from the tsunami. Each year, the hill blooms with the yellow flowers in remembrance.
Eustomas (also known as lisianthus) from Fukushima: Today, a nonprofit organization grows flowers in Fukushima to nurture the hope of recovery after the earthquake and resulting nuclear disaster halted the area’s agricultural industry.
Gentians from Iwate: The indigo blue of gentian flowers matches the color chosen for the emblem of the Tokyo 2020 Games. Over half of the gentians grown in Japan come from Iwate, making the flowers synonymous with the region.
Aspidistra from Tokyo: The foliage serves as a symbol of the 2020 Olympic host city, placing a little something grown in Tokyo soil right into the hands of the athletes who succeed there.