Children from tsunami-hit Japan present Olympians with hand-carved good luck charms

In this July 21, 2012 photo, school children from the tsunami-hit towns in northeastern Japan hand hand-carved good luck charms that they made for the Japanese Olympians during a send-off ceremony before the delegation's departure for the London Summer Olympics games, in Tokyo.
AP Photo/Kyodo News

(AP) TOKYO - Japanese Olympians have received medals even before heading to London.

Schoolchildren from the tsunami-hit areas in northern Japan presented each athlete in the country's 518-member delegation with a hand-carved good luck charm made of driftwood during a send-off ceremony in Tokyo over the weekend.

The medals measure 2 inches in diameter and have the Japanese Olympic Committee emblem on them. The attached ribbons carry signed messages from the children.

The March 11, 2011, disasters left about 19,000 people dead or missing.

One of the medal carvers, 14-year-old Mizuho Sato, says many people supported her after the tsunami and that it's now her turn to cheer for the athletes.

That brought tears to the eyes of javelin thrower Yukifumi Murakami, who vowed to return the favor with good results.