TOKYO: A ceremony to welcome the arrival of the Olympic flame was held in a square at the premises of the Tokyo metropolitan government Friday, ahead of the official opening of the Olympic Games in the Japanese capital later in the day.
The square is the final destination in Tokyo of the nationwide torch relay for the Tokyo Olympics. The arrival ceremony was attended by Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike and other officials, but without spectators from the general public amid the continuing spread of the novel coronavirus.
At the ceremony, 40 torch bearers from Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward, where the metropolitan government office is located, passed the flame using torches, and kabuki actor Nakamura Kankuro VI, the final torch bearer for Tokyo, lit a plate for the flame. Planes from the Blue Impulse aerobatic team of the Air Self-Defense Force flew over the square during the ceremony.
“While taking full-scale measures against coronavirus infection, we want to help athletes from around the world show fantastic performances at the Olympics,” Koike said in a speech at the ceremony.
The flame will be used to light the Olympic cauldron at the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony, to be held at the Japan National Stadium in Shinjuku Ward from 8 p.m. Friday (11 a.m. GMT).
The Olympic flame departed from Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan, March 25 and spent 121 days touring the 47 prefectures of the country. Torch relay events on public roads were canceled partially or totally in 20 prefectures due to the coronavirus epidemic.
The Tokyo Summer Olympics and Paralympics were postponed by one year from 2020 because of the spread of the coronavirus worldwide. The Olympics, set to run until Aug. 8, comes as the Japanese capital has been under a coronavirus state of emergency, which is slated to remain in place until Aug. 22. The Paralympics is scheduled to take place between Aug. 24 and Sept. 5.