Fans to be barred from Tokyo Olympic torch relay start

Japan Today -- Mar 16
Spectators will be barred from the start of the Tokyo Olympics torch relay, organizers said Monday, announcing a pared-back launch as the countdown to the postponed Games begins in earnest.

Fans were told to stay away from next week's "simplified" starting ceremony and first leg of the nationwide relay, which was put on hold a year ago when the Olympics were delayed over the coronavirus.

"The grand start ceremony and the first section of the Fukushima torch relay... will not be open to the public," organizers said in a statement, adding that the festivities would be broadcast live online.

The announcement comes ahead of a decision on whether fans from overseas will be allowed to enter Japan for the postponed Games, expected to be taken before the torch relay begins on March 25.

Reports last week suggested the Japanese government is set to ban fans from abroad over fears of a rise in infections.

The torch relay will begin in Fukushima prefecture, which last week marked the 10th anniversary of the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster that left 18,500 dead or missing.

But the torch, headed for the Olympics opening ceremony on July 23, will get a more muted send-off than originally planned.

- Japan Today