Tokyo Olympic Games torch relay scheduled to start in 100 days

Tokyo Olympic Games torch relay scheduled to start in 100 days
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The Tokyo Games torch relay planned ahead of the Olympics is scheduled to start in 100 days at the end of March, Olympics organizers said on Tuesday.

The 121-day relay, planned to start on March 25, will engage 10,000 runners and tens of thousands of officials across 859 municipalities, The Associated Press reported. But the coronavirus safety concerns that postponed the relay last year remain as the world has now seen more than 72.9 million confirmed cases.

The relay is slated to begin in Fukushima, which was the original starting point of the relay scheduled about nine months ago. 

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The Tokyo Olympic organizing committee met virtually on Tuesday, saying the coronavirus safety measures will be developed for the relay.

“We wanted to simplify the program as much as possible, trying to minimize the number of vehicles and audience as well,” Yukihiko Nunomura, the vice director general of the committee, said, according to the AP. “As you know the torch relay will go all over Japan and we will have a lot of participants.”

Officials had previously discussed canceling the relay due to the expenses and safety concerns, but they did not ultimately follow that path. The Tokyo Skytree, the tallest building in Japan, lit up gold on Tuesday to show that the country is 100 days out from the relay.

The Olympic games delayed from last year are set to start on July 23 and gather 11,000 athletes and an additional 4,400 athletes for the Paralympics. 

Tokyo Games officials have indicated they are waiting until early 2021 to announce any coronavirus adjustments to the Olympics and have said they are hopeful as the first vaccinations are being distributed in several countries. 

“A few vaccines are now being distributed and are actually being used,” Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike told the AP. “It’s a ray of hope.”

Japan has experienced an increase in new cases in the past few weeks, with a total of 184,536 cases confirmed since the beginning of the pandemic, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The nation’s death toll of 2,558 remains relatively low compared to its population size of about 125 million.