The torch relay for the postponed 2021 Tokyo Olympics has started on Thursday and will continue for a span of 121-days. The journey will conclude at the opening ceremony in Tokyo on July 23.
The Tokyo Olympic torch relay began in northeastern Fukushima prefecture, an area which was massively affected by the 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and the meltdown of three nuclear reactors, leading to the death of 18,000 in the tragic incidents.
“The torch of Tokyo 2020 will become a bright light for hope for Japanese citizens and citizens in the world and a light at the end of the tunnel,” said Seiko Hashimoto, the president of the local organizing committee and a former Olympian himself.
While it was already announced that the 2011 Women’s World Cup-winning Japan team would begin the torch relay, it was Azusa Iwashimizu, a key player of that squad who was the first runner. Azusa, surrounded by other members of the squad and coach Norio Sasaki, carried the torch out of the J-Village.
Tokyo Olympics Torch Relay opening ceremony held without spectators
The Tokyo Olympics torch relay opening ceremony was closed for the public in order to curb the spread of COVID-19 virus, but it was streamed live. Fans were instructed to maintain social distance along the roadside as the torch passed by, while they were also instructed against cheering loudly.
The organizers even informed that they would re-route the relay if people didn't adhere to the norms. But hundreds of fans in Nahara Town fully co-operated as they spread out on the roadside to avoid crowding.
“The Olympic torch relay starting from today is a valuable opportunity for the people to get a real sense of the Olympics and Paralympics that are approaching,” stated Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.
The Olympic torch relay for Tokyo 2020 kicked off by lighting the Olympic flame in Athens, Greece, in March last year.
It was then transported to Miyagi Prefecture, Japan via a special jet.