Coronavirus pandemic: Tokyo Olympics 2020's Flame of Recovery tour scaled back due to COVID-19 concerns

Organisers have been keen to label Tokyo 2020 as the 'Reconstruction Olympics' as a symbol of Japan’s recovery from the disaster.

Reuters March 16, 2020 15:23:26 IST
Coronavirus pandemic: Tokyo Olympics 2020's Flame of Recovery tour scaled back due to COVID-19 concerns

Tokyo: Tokyo 2020’s Flame of Recovery tour, taking the Olympic flame to parts of Japan most affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, has been scaled back as a precaution against the spread of the coronavirus , organisers said.

The six day tour was set to begin on Friday, and takes place before the official torch relay begins on 26 March. It will visit locations in Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima prefectures, the areas hardest hit by the disaster.

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The Japanese national flag waves next to an altar with the Olympic flame of the Tokyo 2020. AP

Relay organisers said on Monday that “the main displays of the Olympic Flame will be staged largely as planned” but that certain elements, including the welcoming event with children on Friday and various other ceremonies have been cancelled.

Organisers have been keen to label Tokyo 2020 as the 'Reconstruction Olympics' as a symbol of Japan’s recovery from the disaster.

However, a cloud hands over plans for the Games, due to begin on 24 July, as the coronavirus outbreak spreads across the world.

Several qualifying events, including those for climbing, boxing, fencing and judo have been cancelled or postponed, leaving athletes uncertain about how and when they will be able to qualify for the Olympics.

Tokyo’s test event for volleyball, due to take place in the newly-built Ariake Arena starting on 21 April, has been cancelled due to concerns over the coronavirus .

Various other test events, dress rehearsals ahead of the actual contests in the Olympic and Paralympic Games, have also been cancelled, including rugby sevens and boccia.

The number of coronavirus infections in Japan rose to 1,484 on Sunday, including 697 from a cruise ship, the Diamond Princess, and 14 returnees on charter flights from China. Deaths in Japan related to the virus stand at 29.

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