Tokyo Olympics 2020: Torch relay gets underway in Fukushima
The 2020 edition of the Olympic Games would be held in Tokyo. The event was supposed to be held last year but was delayed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, the traditional torch relay has kick-started in the host country, as the Olympic flame would travel the world.
With just four months to go before the 2020 Olympic Games gets underway in Tokyo, the traditional torch relay has officially kick-started. The Olympic torch was lit in Fukushima, at the J-Village sports complex, while the city itself is famous for the 2011 nuclear disaster.
As per the traditions, the Olympic flame lit in Olympia, Greece, completes its tour before being handed to the current host nation. Consequently, the torch relay then officially kicks off, which was Japan's case, as Fukushima was the chosen location.
The torch would now travel across the globe before returning to Japan, where in Tokyo, the Olympic cauldron would be lit during the opening ceremony on July 23. "This little flame never lost hope and it waited for this day like a cherry blossom bud just about to bloom," said Seiko Hashimoto, Tokyo 2020 chief, as she feels it would serve as "a ray of light at the end of the darkness", reports AFP.
As for the relay, fans would be barred from the launch event. However, as the relay progresses, fans can line-up as onlookers and cheer for the 10,000 runners running through 47 consulates before reaching Tokyo's National Stadium during the opening ceremony.
Meanwhile, fans and onlookers will have to maintain the basic COVID norms, with a face mask being mandatory. Also, the local organisers would make sure to avoid the collection of huge crowds at a place, as the relay could be suspended upon so.
The Tokyo Olympics was initially referred to as the 'Recovery Olympics', showcasing Tohoku's struggles. The city was destroyed by the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami, leading to a nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Nuclear Plant almost a decade ago.
"From afar, Fukushima might look like a place where time has stood still. But, when people see the spectators lining the roads and the passion of the runners, I think they'll update their image of the place," said Hanae Nojiri, one of the torchbearers.
Among the famous landmarks where the torch would pass through includes the Hiroshima City Peace Memorial Park and Mount Fuji. However, there are still challenges regarding the runners, as several of them have dropped out owing to scheduling conflicts and concerns regarding the virus. In contrast, some regions have warned of relay cancellations if adequate countermeasures for the virus were not put in place.
"People are feeling cut off from each other at this time. These 10,000 runners can connect with people everywhere," concluded Hashimoto.