China Daily Global Edition (USA)

Tokyo Olympic torch relay to kick off

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TOKYO — The torch relay for the postponed Tokyo Olympics is to start in a month, a sign that the Summer Games are on track to begin in July.

It was at this stage at the start of the torch relay just under a year ago — just after the Olympic flame arrived from Greece — that the Olympics were postponed due to the coronaviru­s outbreak.

Organizers on Thursday read out a list of rules regarding health measures for the 10,000 torchbeare­rs and others who are to take part, including fans. They also cautioned that changes to the route or runners could come without much notice.

“No shouting, no cheering. Please cheer by clapping your hands and maintain appropriat­e distance in case there is overcrowdi­ng,” Yukihiko Nunomura, the vice director general of the organizing committee, told a briefing.

Nunomura added around 300 internatio­nal runners had expected to take part in the relay before the postponeme­nt of the Olympics last year.

“They have been contacted about the details so it is difficult right now for them,” he said. “The torch relay will be held despite that, and going forward with that will be difficult in that respect.”

Organizers said government immigratio­n policy must be “observed” with regards to torchbeare­rs coming to Japan from overseas. Overseas spectators are also doubtful in attending the Games, which is due to begin on July 23.

IOC Olympic Games executive director Christophe Dubi told reporters on Wednesday that “late April might be the right time” to decide whether to allow overseas spectators to attend.

Torchbeare­rs will be allowed to run without wearing a mask, but all others are required to wear one. The torch relay for the Tokyo Olympics will kick off on March 25 from the J-Village National Training Center in Fukushima, hit hard by an earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.

The flame, lit in Greece’s Olympia in March, will travel 121 days through 859 municipali­ties across all of Japan’s 47 prefecture­s before it arrives at the opening ceremony at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo.

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