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Suga likely to skip Tokyo Olympic torch relay’s opening ceremony

TOKYO — Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is unlikely to attend the Tokyo Olympic torch relay’s opening ceremony next week, government officials said Wednesday.


The government is planning his absence from the March 25 ceremony in the northeastern prefecture of Fukushima, as parliamentary deliberations over the budget draft for the coming fiscal year starting in April are expected to enter an important phase and he needs to prioritize them, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.


The ceremony will be held at the J-Village soccer training center in the prefecture, which was a frontline base to deal with the nuclear crisis that was triggered by the catastrophic March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.


Suga had said his attendance is “under consideration,” citing his engagement with the ongoing ordinary Diet session, while noting that the nationwide torch relay will be “a light of hope” for the region’s recovery from the disaster and “an important opportunity” for Japan to know the games are approaching.


Seiko Hashimoto, who heads the organizing committee of the Olympics and Paralympics, and Japan’s Olympic minister Tamayo Marukawa plan to take part in the ceremony, which will be held without spectators amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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