Today should have seen the start of the relay of the Olympic Games torch. But, having been the biggest world sporting event to fall victim to the coronavirus pandemic, the Olympic Flame – made entirely from recycled aluminium scrap – will now not be making a 121-day tour of 859 Japanese municipalities.
‘We will not start the torch relay, while we will discuss countermeasures following the coronavirus outbreak,’ announced Yoshiro Mori, president of the Tokyo 2020 organising committee, at a press conference this week.
The decision is based on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s plan to reschedule the Games for 2021. To date, Japan has invested an estimated US$ 10 billion in the Olympic sports event.
The flame for this summer’s Olympics was lit as scheduled on March 12 in ancient Olympia. However, there were no citizens present as coronavirus infections surged in western Greece.
The flame handover ceremony, which normally draws a large crowd, took place in Athens on March 19 before the flame arrived in Japan on March 20 in Miyagi Prefecture.
The five month long tour was to cover all of Japan’s 47 prefectures; starting off in Fukushima, Miyagi and Iwate, the three prefectures hit hardest by the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and ensuing nuclear disaster. An interesting fact is that the Olympic torch was made from scrap metal used to build emergency housing for citizens fleeing the disaster region.
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