Tokyo 2020: Olympic torch relay wraps up in Chiba off-road due to COVID-19 restrictions
Due to the COVID-19 restrictions in Chiba, located just outside Tokyo, the relay was not allowed to take place in the streets, leaving torchbearers to perform their duties on a stage.
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The Tokyo Olympic torch relay is scheduled to visit all 47 prefectures of Japan over 121 days.
It will end on July 23rd at the Opening Ceremonies in Tokyo.
The relay had begun in March at the northeastern Fukushima prefecture, the area that was devastated by the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and the meltdown of three nuclear reactors.
The first runner with the torch was Azusa Iwashimizu, a key player in the Japan team that won the Women’s World Cup in 2011.
The torch relay is a big test for the ensuing Olympics with fear among the public that the event could spread the COVID-19 virus to rural and more isolated parts of the country.
After the postponement a year ago, there was early talk of eliminating the relay to save money. However, that idea was quickly dropped with the relay heavily sponsored by Coca-Cola and Toyota.
The relay is a prelude to the difficulties the Olympics and Paralympics will present with 15,400 athletes entering Japan, along with thousands of other officials, judges, VIPs, media, and broadcasters.
Athletes will be kept in a bio-bubble atmosphere in Tokyo and will be limited to the Athletes Village on Tokyo Bay, the competition venues and training areas. Most others will be outside the bubble and will be kept at a distance from the athletes.
We have not determined to have spectators, says Tokyo 2020 president Hashimoto
Organisers recently said that fans from abroad will be banned from attending the Olympics and Paralympics. Most volunteers from abroad have also been ruled out.
About the local fans, Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee chief Seiko Hashimoto said they have not determined to have spectators at the tournament but will follow government guidelines accordingly to ensure safe and secure games.
“I’m fully aware that the people feel that safety and security is not really secured but I want to make the best efforts toward the opening preparation,” Hashimoto said.
(With Agency inputs)
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