Tokyo 2020: Olympic torch relay kicks off in Fukushima amid virus concerns

Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee President Seiko Hashimoto declared the Olympic flame would serve as “a ray of light at the end of the darkness” as the Games’ torch relay set off in Japan amid concerns over the unpredictable and mercurial nature of the COVID-19 infection.

The relay restart, after the Olympics were postponed by one year, was held at the J-Village sports complex in Fukushima, a far-flung region ravaged by the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in March 2011. The 121-day journey will involve 10,000 runners and go through all of Japan’s 47 prefectures.

Hashimoto said, “For the past year, as the entire world underwent a difficult period, the Olympic flame was kept alive quietly but powerfully. The flame will [carry] people’s hopes and wishes for world peace across Japan. The small flame did not lose hope, and just like the cherry blossom buds that are ready to bloom, it was waiting for this day.”

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