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  • #ICYMI: Tokyo Relay Start; Italy 2026 Backing; Ticket Czar Wanted


    (ATR) #ICYMI -- In Case You Missed It ... Sometimes the best stories don't get the attention we think they deserve. Here are our staff picks for articles this week they really want you to know about.

    Tokyo 2020 Torch Relay Start Revealed

    The 2020 Olympic flame will be lit on March 12 in Greece, and will then travel to the three prefectures hit hardest by the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, before setting off across the country.

    Elementary school kids in Fukushima celebrating 500 days to go (Getty Images)
    Tokyo 2020 organizers shared the start date for the 2020 Olympic Torch Relay and six days of viewing locations, as part of 500 days to go celebrations for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

    The flame will arrive from Greece to Japan on March 20, 2020, at Matsushima Air Base in Miyagi prefecture. Then it will visit locations in Miyagi, Iwate, and Fukushima prefectures. Tokyo 2020 says the theme for the torch relay is “Hope Lights Our Way”.

    In Fukushima the torch relay will commence on March 26 at the rebuilt J-Village soccer complex. J-Village, a national training base, was destroyed during the 2011 disaster, and partially reopened last year. Tokyo 2020 held an executive board meeting last July at J-Village as part of the reopening, and the complex will be fully operational this year.

    Japanese media were first to report that J-Village will be the site of the Torch Relay opening last week.

    The torch relay will take place over 121 days throughout all 47 prefectures of Japan. During the relay, the torch will spend slightly longer periods of time in Miyagi, Iwate, and Fukushima prefectures to highlight reconstruction efforts.

    "I hope the reconstruction will continue to progress steadily, and that when the Olympic flame is lit in Greece exactly one year from today, on March 12, 2020, it will be a source of hope for many people, marking as it will the first step into the tenth year since the earthquake,” Yoshiro Mori, Tokyo 2020 President, said to journalists during the 500 days to go celebrations.

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    Italian President Backs 2026 Bid

    The joint Milan-Cortina bid for the 2026 Olympics receives the strongest backing yet from the Italian federal government.

    Cortina d'Ampezzo would host alpine skiing in 2026 (ATR)
    Italian President Sergio Mattarella promised the “utmost support” for the bid in comments reported by ANSA.

    “I assure all the support and backing possible,” Mattarella said, adding that the Winter Games “have great importance, not only for the two host cities but also for the whole of Italy”.

    Matterella’s comments came a day after the Italian Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini called for the government to find the money to host the 2026 Olympics, saying it was “an exceptional opportunity” to showcase Italy and the host regions.

    The federal government has yet to finalize any financial guarantees for Milan-Cortina though it did approve the bid on January 10, a day before the deadline to turn in candidature files to the IOC.

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    IOC Seeks Ticketing Czar

    The IOC is hunting for someone to take charge of ticketing for the Olympic Games.

    The deadline to apply for the job, head of ticketing, based at IOC headquarters in Lausanne is March 14 according to the listing on the IOC website.

    The position comes after chronic problems with ticket sales at nearly every Olympic Games. Most often the issue involves lackluster ticket sales for low demand events or empty seats at venues supposedly sold out.

    Then there are episodes involving questionable ticket sales practices around the world by some National Olympic Committees. Each of the 206 NOCs receives allocations of tickets to the Games which they are permitted to sell, usually through companies granted the right to handle sales within the country under the designation of an Authorized Ticket Reseller, ATR.

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