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Tokyo scraps Olympic torch relay legs in capital

Brazil soccer great Zico, front center, holds the torch for the Tokyo Olympics as he participates in the torch relay with his former team players in Kashima, Ibaraki prefecture, northeast of Tokyo, July 4. 2021.
Brazil soccer great Zico, front center, holds the torch for the Tokyo Olympics as he participates in the torch relay with his former team players in Kashima, Ibaraki prefecture, northeast of Tokyo, July 4. 2021.
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07 Jul 2021 12:07:57 GMT9
07 Jul 2021 12:07:57 GMT9

The Olympic torch relay has been scrapped on Tokyo’s public roads, officials announced Wednesday, as virus concerns continue to plague the Games just over two weeks before they begin.

Private flame-lighting ceremonies will replace public relay events across the capital beginning Friday, the Tokyo city government said.

Right up to the opening ceremony on July 23, the torch events 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 1,000 kilometres (600 miles) south of Tokyo — will go ahead 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 a runner with liquid from a water gun.

Olympic organisers have yet to settle on how many domestic fans can attend the postponed Games, and have warned that events could be held behind closed doors.

Overseas fans have already been barred.

The government is this week expected to extend anti-virus measures in Tokyo and elsewhere, with a decision on Olympic fans to follow.

AFP

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