Tokyo Olympic Torch Relay Kicks Off in Fukushima

Sports

Naraha, Fukushima Pref., March 25 (Jiji Press)--The Tokyo Olympic torch relay got underway in Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan, on Thursday morning, beginning a four-month tour until the July 23 opening ceremony of the postponed Tokyo Games amid lingering fears over the new coronavirus.

The organizing committee for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics hopes that the torch relay can build momentum for the games, put off for one year due to the coronavirus pandemic, while ensuring countermeasures against the virus during the run.

"The relay will be a precious opportunity for everyone in this country to feel that the start of the Olympics and Paralympics is nearing," Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told reporters at the prime minister's office in Tokyo Thursday morning. "I want each region to heighten momentum toward the games."

Due to tight parliamentary schedules, the prime minister was absent from the relay kickoff ceremony held Thursday at the J-Village national soccer training center, which straddles the towns of Naraha and Hirono in Fukushima. J-Village was once used as a base for workers dealing with the country's worst nuclear accident, at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.'s <9501> Fukushima No. 1 plant, which was triggered by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

With the relay starting in disaster-hit Fukushima, the torch is intended by organizers to symbolize the Tokyo Games as a showcase for progress in reconstruction.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press