Olympic torch relay begins final leg in Tokyo

Tokyo, Jul 9 (EFE).- The Olympic torch relay began its final leg Friday in Tokyo on its way to the Olympic stadium for the Games’ modest spectator-free opening ceremony in two weeks.

A small ceremony took place in the rain at Komazawa Olympic Park stadium in Setagaya district to mark the start of the Tokyo stage, which will last for 15 days.

The tour of the torch through the host city, a moment of expectation and jubilation under normal conditions, will be held off public roads, with some exceptions, due to the increase in Covid-19 cases, which on Thursday led organizers to rule out the presence of the public in and around stadiums in Tokyo during the Olympics.

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike was among the participants of the ceremony, broadcast live online, along with three-time Paralympic shooter Aki Taguchi and former tennis player Shuzo Matsuoka, the first torchbearer of the Tokyo section.

The participants made an effort to raise their voices so that their words were heard over the slogans that a group of people shouted from outside the venue, among them: “Stop the Olympic Games.”

More than 100 runners were scheduled to participate on the first day of the Tokyo stage, but will instead attend a special non-spectator event in Machida.

The flame has traveled through 46 of the 47 prefectures of the country since the relay began in Fukushima on Mar. 25, although the route in many sections was withdrawn from public roads to avoid fans gathering.

The start of the relay in Tokyo begins two weeks before the opening ceremony, scheduled for July 23, and a day after the Japanese government decided to declare a new state of emergency in the capital due to the increase in Covid-19 infections and the spread of variants.

The organizers also announced that the competitions will be held without spectators in the venues of Tokyo, its surroundings and Hokkaido, although it left the doors open to the public in other provinces. EFE


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