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  • Olympic Flame to be Exhibited in 14 Japanese Prefectures


    (ATR) The Olympic flame from the postponed Tokyo Games will be publicly displayed in 14 prefectures starting in November ahead of the scheduled start of the Torch Relay in March, sources close to the matter said on Monday.

    The flame, inside a lantern, was put back on display in September in Tokyo. (ATR)
    As already announced, the Olympic Torch Relay will begin on March 25 in Fukushima Prefecture.

    Ishikawa Prefecture in central Japan will be the first stop on November 7 as the flame will be displayed at various locations far off the route of its tour, including the UNESCO natural heritage site of Shiretoko in the northernmost main island of Hokkaido.

    According to the Kyodo news agency, after Ishikawa the flame will be taken to Mie, Ehime, Oita, Hiroshima, Hokkaido, Osaka, Nara, Gifu, Fukuoka, Niigata, Kochi, Yamaguchi and Iwate until March 16.

    The flame was lit on March 12 of this year in ancient Olympia, Greece, and arrived in Japan six days later, before the March 24 announcement of the one-year postponement of the games due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

    It was briefly exhibited in Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima prefectures, which were hit hardest by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, before being brought to Tokyo, where it is now exhibited.

    The public display of the flame, inside a lantern, opened in September at the Japan Olympic Museum, near the new National Stadium in Tokyo.

    The Torch Relay will begin on March 25 at Fukushima's J-Village soccer training center, which served as a front-line base of operations to combat the 2011 nuclear crisis caused by the disaster.

    It will last 121 days and will pass through 859 municipalities covering all 47 prefectures of Japan, maintaining the original schedule for each region.

    Approximately 10,000 runners who have already been selected will have priority for the national relay.

    Organizers said they will stick to local routes and events that were already planned in principle, but can make adjustments in the future depending on the state of each region.

    Organizers had been looking to shorten the schedule to cut costs caused by the delayed games, but dropped the idea after receiving strong disapproval from local governments already hosting the event, Kyodo reported.

    The Olympics are scheduled to open on July 23 followed by the Paralympics on August 24.

    The Paralympic Torch Relay will take place in August.

    On Monday, during his first speech before Parliament, the Prime Minister of Japan, Yoshihide Suga, said that his country is "determined" to organize the Olympic Games in the summer of 2021, and affirmed that the event will serve "as proof that humanity has defeated the virus."

    Homepage photo: ATR

    Written by Miguel Hernandez

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