A giant set of Olympic rings installed off Tokyo's waterfront was towed away for inspections and maintenance Thursday after coronavirus forced the year-long postponement of the 2020 Games.
The 69-ton interlocking rings went up off the Odaiba bay area at the beginning of the year, as the city began the final countdown to the Summer Olympics.
They were intended to stay in place until the original end date of the Olympics, on August 9, and then be replaced by the Paralympics symbol.
But on Thursday, the barge holding the monument -- which is more than 15 metres tall and 32 metres wide (49 feet by 104 feet) -- was towed back to shore.
"The Olympic Symbol as well as its salvage barge will undergo a safety inspection and receive maintenance for about four months. The date of re-installation to the current location will be determined after maintenance has been completed," the Tokyo Metropolitan Government said in a statement.
This year's Games were originally scheduled to open on July 24, but officials took the historic decision to push back the event by a year as the coronavirus pandemic spread across the globe.
Olympic and Japanese officials have said they remain committed to holding the Games next year as planned, but experts have questioned whether the virus will be under control by then. Opinion polls in Japan show waning confidence that the Games can, or should, be held in 2021.
© Agence France-Presse