TOKYO (AFP) – The Olympic flame arrived in Tokyo on Friday (July 9) at a low-key arrival ceremony with the public kept away over virus fears, the day after Japanese officials said spectators will be banned from most Games events.
On a rainy morning exactly two weeks before the July 23 opening ceremony of the biggest sporting event since the coronavirus pandemic began, the flame was carried on stage in a lantern and handed to Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike.
On Wednesday, officials announced that the Olympic torch relay had been scrapped on Tokyo’s public roads, as virus concerns continue to plague the Games.
Right up to the opening ceremony on July 23, the torch ceremonies will be streamed online, with authorities urging spectators to watch them “in the comfort of your home”.
Only the relay leg in the Ogasawara islands – a remote archipelago some 1,000km south of Tokyo – will go ahead in public as scheduled.
The nationwide torch relay has been fraught with problems since it began in March, with almost half the legs disrupted in some way. The relay was forced off public roads in famous tourist cities such as Kyoto and Hiroshima over fears that crowds of fans could spread the virus.
And it has also met with some public opposition, with a 53-year-old woman arrested on Sunday for squirting liquid from a water pistol towards a runner.
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