Olympic torch relay begins in Fukushima

NHK -- Mar 24
The Olympic torch started its journey across Japan on Thursday morning after a yearlong delay. That's because the Tokyo 2020 Games were postponed due to the global pandemic.

The torch relay will travel through all 47 prefectures and be carried out under tight anti-coronavirus measures.

The relay began in the northeastern prefecture of Fukushima, which was devastated by the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident.

A departure ceremony was held with officials citing their hopes to overcome the pandemic and showcase the recovery efforts after the disaster 10 years ago.

Tokyo 2020 President Hashimoto Seiko said she hopes the Olympic flame of the Tokyo Games will "light up hopes around Japan one by one with its sacred, powerful and warm shine."

Fukushima Governor Uchibori Masao said, "Here in Fukushima Prefecture, we have been facing serious problems and are still recovering from 2011. So the torch relay and the Games are very precious for us -- the people in Fukushima."

The flame was brought to Japan from Greece last March.

The first runners are members from Nadeshiko Japan, the national women's soccer team that won the 2011 World Cup soon after the country was hit by the disaster.

About 10,000 runners plan to participate in the relay, each carrying the torch for around 200 meters.

Due to the pandemic, tight prevention measures are in place. Officials have asked spectators to wear masks and to refrain from cheering loudly for the runners.

The relay has not been without controversy -- more than 30 runners pulled out due to concerns about the spread of the virus and other reasons.

The 121-day journey is scheduled to end at the national stadium in Tokyo on July 23, just in time for the Opening Ceremonies. - NHK

東京オリンピックの聖火リレーがスタートしました。感染対策をしながら121日間のリレーを成功させることができるのか、その成果が大会本番の運営を左右します。

25日午前9時40分、福島県のJヴィレッジから聖火リレーが始まりました。

 第1走者は2011年に女子サッカーのワールドカップで優勝したなでしこジャパンのメンバーです。

 大会組織委員会・橋本聖子会長:「復興を遂げていく、その姿とご支援を頂いた世界の皆さんに感謝の気持ちを込めて、このリレーがスタートしたことになります」

 なでしこジャパン・宮間あやさん:「まだまだ色んなことが難しい世の中で気を付けなければいけないことであったり、難しい感情ではありましたが、たくさんの皆さんと何とかオリンピックを成功させようという思いを一つにできた」

 新型コロナ対策として大会組織委員会はインターネットの中継でリレーを見てほしいと呼び掛けています。

 もしも沿道に来る時は声を出さずに拍手で応援するよう求めています。

 また、人が集まりすぎた時はリレーを中断する可能性もあるとしています。 - ANNnewsCH