Tokyo Olympics torch relay may be suspended if large crowds form
TOKYO. KAZINFORM - The organizing committee of this summer's Tokyo Olympics released Thursday a set of coronavirus countermeasures for the nationwide torch relay in Japan, including the temporary suspension of the event if large crowds form along the route, Kyodo reports.
The committee said it will ask fans to watch livestreams of the 121-day event starting March 25, instead of gathering along the roadside, to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Torchbearers will be required to monitor their health and fill out check forms for two weeks before taking part in the relay, it said.
The domestic leg of the relay for the Tokyo Games, which were postponed for one year due to the coronavirus pandemic, will kick off at the J-Village soccer training center in Fukushima and pass through Japan's 46 other prefectures before the opening ceremony of the Olympics on July 23.
Celebration events with live performances and exhibition booths will be held at the end of each day of the nationwide relay, but the committee said it will require people to make reservations beforehand in principle to enter the venues.
In December, the organizing committee said about 10,000 runners will carry the torch through 859 municipalities across the country's 47 prefectures, with the itinerary unaffected by the rescheduling of the games.
The relay is scheduled to pass through World Heritage sites and areas devastated by recent natural disasters, including the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and subsequent nuclear disaster in Fukushima Prefecture and other areas in northeastern Japan.
The flame arrived in Japan on March 20 last year after it was lit in ancient Olympia, Greece. However, International Olympic Committee chief Thomas Bach and then Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe decided just four days later to reschedule the games.