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Tokyo Olympic flame to be lit without audience

  • March 10, 2020
  • , Jiji Press , 2:44 a.m.
  • English Press

Tokyo, March 9 (Jiji Press)–Thursday’s lighting ceremony for the Olympic flame for the Tokyo Olympics this summer and the March 19 ceremony to hand over the torch to the Tokyo Games organizing committee will be held without an audience, it was decided Monday.

Toshiro Muto, director-general of the Tokyo organizing committee, unveiled the decision, made in response to growing infections with the COVID-19 new coronavirus, after holding phone talks with officials of the International Olympic Committee and Greece’s Hellenic Olympic Committee.

The lighting ceremony, to be held in Olympia, Greece, the site of the ancient Olympic Games, will be attended by only 100 guests approved by the IOC and the Tokyo organizing committee. The number of people to be sent from Japan for the ceremony will total about 35, fewer than a level considered earlier.

The rehearsal for the lighting ceremony, slated for Wednesday, will be held behind closed doors. An Olympic torch relay in Greece after the lighting ceremony will likely be carried out on a reduced scale amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The torch handover ceremony will take place in Athens.

Muto said that the organizing committee is not considering calling off the planned display of the Olympic flame in the three northeastern Japan prefectures of Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima, which were hit hardest by the March 2011 huge earthquake and tsunami, after the torch’s arrival in Japan from Greece on March 20.

Meanwhile, he suggested that the March 26 ceremony for a torch relay in Japan, which will start on the day from the J-Village national sports training center in Fukushima, will be scaled down. J-Village was used as a base to deal with the unprecedented triple meltdown that occurred at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s <9501> Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant following the quake and tsunami.

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