Olympic flame arrives in Tokyo for no-spectator relay


TOKYO, Japan  – The Olympic flame arrived in Tokyo on Friday however with the general public stored away at a low-key welcoming ceremony due to coronavirus fears, the day after a “heartbreaking” announcement that spectators could be banned from most Video games occasions.

On a wet morning precisely two weeks earlier than the opening ceremony of the most important sporting occasion because the pandemic started, the flame was introduced on stage in a lantern and handed to Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike.

Tokyo 2020 organisers and authorities officers on Thursday evening introduced their resolution to bar followers from Olympic occasions within the capital, which might be underneath a virus emergency all through the Video games.

It means the pandemic-postponed Video games would be the first to happen largely behind closed doorways. A handful of competitions will happen outdoors the capital.

The torch relay was meant to construct pleasure for the Video games, but it surely has been pulled from public roads within the capital to forestall crowds spreading the virus as infections rise.

Earlier than the flame arrived, 5 male trumpet gamers wearing fits performed a rousing melody underneath a gazebo to shelter them from the drizzle, in entrance of solely journalists and a handful of officers.

The stands stood empty on the Komazawa Olympic Park stadium within the capital’s southeastern suburbs, which was used within the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

“I’m glad that we welcome the torch relay, with these legacies we proudly present at house and overseas,” Koike mentioned.

However the Tokyo governor, who was lately hospitalised for exhaustion, coughed 3 times throughout her temporary speech and several other extra instances after that.

Friday’s occasion gave a style of the ambiance that would await athletes on the opening ceremony, to be held on the Nationwide Stadium within the metropolis centre.

The choice to bar followers got here after the federal government mentioned a state of emergency could be imposed in Tokyo all through the Video games to curb a rebound in infections and fears over the extra infectious Delta variant.

On Thursday evening, Koike couldn’t disguise her disappointment at having to no followers on the Video games.

“I really feel heartbreaking grief about this resolution,” she mentioned.

When the 2020 Video games had been postponed final 12 months as the size of the pandemic turned clear, there was speak they might be staged as proof the world had overcome the virus.

However that triumphant tone has given approach to the cruel actuality of latest an infection surges and extra contagious variants, together with the Delta pressure that has led to virus resurgences in lots of nations.

The nationwide torch relay has been fraught with issues because it started in March, with virtually half the legs disrupted not directly.

The relay was compelled off public roads in well-known vacationer cities reminiscent of Kyoto and Hiroshima over fears that crowds of followers might unfold the virus.

And it has additionally met with some public opposition, with a 53-year-old lady arrested on Sunday for squirting liquid from a water pistol in direction of a runner.


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