Northern Ireland’s First and deputy First Ministers have sent a good luck send off to the local athletes competing at the Tokyo Olympics.
The well-wishes from Paul Givan and Michelle O’Neill come ahead of the Tokyo Olympic Games opening ceremony on Friday.
Local fans here will be cheering for 31 competitors across a variety of disciplines, including golfer Rory McIlroy, gymnast Rhys McClenaghan and Ireland hockey goalkeeper Ayeisha McFerran.
First Minister Paul Givan said Northern Ireland was “incredibly proud” of all the local athletes.
“The Olympics is one of the biggest sporting events in the world and it is wonderful to have so many athletes from Northern Ireland competing at this level.
“These are hugely talented sportsmen and sportswomen. After years of dedication and sacrifice, they have reached the pinnacle of their careers and are up there with the best in their field.
“We are incredibly proud of what all our athletes have achieved in securing a place at the Olympics and I send them my best wishes for a successful Games.”
Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill added: “I wish all our Olympians the very best of luck as they embark on the challenge of a lifetime at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
“The Olympics is the ultimate goal for all athletes and it is outstanding to have such a strong representation of local sportspeople at the Games in Japan this year. I’m especially pleased to see so many women competing at this elite level.
“Our Olympians have overcome enormous challenges to reach this point and I encourage everyone to get behind them as they go for gold.”
One of the first Northern Irish athletes hoping to go for gold in Tokyo will be Belfast archer Patrick Huston, who is hoping to be one of Team GB’s archers in Monday’s finals event.
The 2020 Olympics and Paralympics were postponed for a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
It's the first delay in the 124-year modern history of the Games.
As a result of the current Tokyo state of emergency imposed by the Japanese government, only 1,000 VIP spectators will be permitted at Friday’s opening ceremony, while the games themselves will be mostly held behind closed doors with no spectators at the majority of events.