The Greek leg of the Torch Relay taking the Olympic flame to the Tokyo 2022 Games has been cut short by organisers
On Friday (13th March), the Hellenic Olympic Committee (HOC) said in a statement that the reason for cancelling several days of the relay was the presence of large crowds wanting to see the relay on the streets of Greece, and the health risks posed by the coronavirus pandemic.
The HOC said, “Despite strong recommendations to the public not to focus on the ceremony in the flame crossing cities, the HOC took the difficult but necessary decision to cancel the rest of the programme on Greek soil."
The Olympic flame had been lit in Ancient Olympia on Thursday (12 March), before Greece's Olympic shooting gold medallist Anna Korakaki became the first woman ever to start an Olympic Torch Relay.
Handover ceremony to go ahead
The HOC confirmed that the handover ceremony would take place as planned on Thursday (19th March) in the Athens stadium where the first modern Olympics was held, but without spectators in attendance.
The flame will then travel to Japan, where it will be carried to the host city for the Tokyo 2020 Opening Ceremony.
Tokyo 2020 organisers commented, "Tokyo 2020 will bring the Olympic flame back to Japan, and in line with the countermeasure policy set by the national government, we will work closely with all municipalities and related organisations in Japan to ensure the Olympic Torch Relay safely begins on March 26.
"The IOC and Tokyo 2020 have also reconfirmed today that both parties will continue to stay in close collaboration with all relevant organisations as we prepare to deliver a safe and secure Tokyo 2020 Games opening on 24 July 2020 as planned.”