Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch relay route revealed!
The J-Village National Training Centre in Fukushima will stage the start of the Tokyo 2020 Torch Relay on 26 March 2020.
Fukushima was the prefecture most hit by the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in 2011 as organisers stressed the importance of Tokyo 2020 as the "reconstruction Olympics".
The full route was revealed on Saturday (1 June) during an event in Tokyo marking the 300-day milestone to the starting date of the torch relay, with the Olympic flame visiting 857 municipalities in all 47 of Japan's prefectures.
The route through the nation includes scenic spots and UNESCO World Heritage sites, including Mt. Fuji, Japan's highest mountain, and other major landmarks such as the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, dedicated to the victims of the world's first atomic bombing in 1945.
The relay will be in Tokyo from 10 July before reaching the Olympic Stadium for the Opening Ceremony on 24 July.
Also unveiled were the designs of the uniforms to be worn by the circa 10,000 torchbearers taking part in the 121-day journey, and guidelines for those wishing to apply to be torchbearers in the relay.
The earliest application window will open on 17 June.
From Fukushima to Tokyo
At 121 days, this relay is 15 days longer than the one ahead of Rio 2016.
It will be the fifth-longest torch relay in Olympic history behind Athens 2004 (142 days), Beijing 2008 (130), Sydney 2000 (127) and Sochi 2014 (123).
Tokyo 2020 organisers previously stated that "the route will allow for as many people as possible to view the Olympic Torch Relay", and they have delivered on that promise with 98% of Japan’s population living within an hour by car or train.
Nagano, host city of the 1998 Winter Olympics, is an early stop on the Torch Relay which travels clockwise south from Fukushima.
It will reach central Japan in early April, coinciding with the blooming season of the country's famous cherry blossoms which will provide a stunning backdrop to the event.
The Torch Relay will than proceed south-west until visiting the islands of Okinawa, the southernmost prefecture of Japan, in early May.
It will make its way back up to the north of the country, passing through Kyoto in late May, all the way up to Hokkaido, where it will arrive in mid-June.
Then it will visit Iwate and Miyagi, the two prefectures other than Fukushima worst affected by the Tohoku earthquake, before turning southwards again towards Tokyo.
World Heritage Sites
Tokyo, as Olympic host, has been allocated the most number of days for the relay at 15, followed by three days each for three prefectures affected by the disaster — Fukushima, Miyagi and Iwate — and the four prefectures near Tokyo in which Olympic venues are located — Kanagawa, Chiba, Saitama and Shizuoka. The remaining prefectures were allocated two days each.
Each day, the relay will be run between 10 am and 8 pm in principle, and the flame will be transported to the next-day starting point by car or other means.
The route will take in World Heritage Sites like Mt. Fuji and Hiroshima Prefecture's Miyajima Island, home to the Itsukushima Shrine and its floating gate.
The torch will also visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Tomioka Silk Mill, a factory building in eastern Japan symbolising the country's industrialisation from the 19th century.
The Torchbearer Uniform
Based on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay concept ‘Hope Lights Our Way’, the torchbearer uniform features the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay emblem on the front, with the Games ichimatsu moyo chequered pattern on the back.
It was designed by Daisuke Obana who has also supervised its production. He said, "I have interpreted the Olympic Torch Relay as being something that connects people and their thoughts. In Japan, these Games are being referred to as 'the Recovery Games' and so the Olympic Flame will start its journey from an area affected by recent natural disasters.
"I hope that the Olympic Flame that is transported to Japan will bring with it the encouragement and thoughts of people from all over the world." - Torchbearer Uniform designer Daisuke Obana
The uniform, produced in part from recycled plastic bottles, includes a diagonal sash with a design based on a Japanese traditional motif that is often deployed in relays in Japan.
With its origins dating back to ancient and traditional rituals, Obana hopes the sash will be "a link that connects the world and people's thought".
Applying To Be A Torchbearer
Some 10,000 torchbearers will take part in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay with many of them coming from the general public.
Members of the public can apply to one of the four Torch Relay Presenting Partners - Coca-Cola Japan, Toyota, Nippon Life and NTT Communications - or to an Olympic Torch Relay Taskforce of which there is one for each prefecture.
Coca-Cola Japan will accept applications from 17 June with Toyota, Nippon Life and NTT starting a week later.
Applications to the 47 Olympic Relay Taskforces can be made from 1 July.
Announcement of the successful applicants will be made after December 2019.
Preference will be given to those who can demonstrate the following:
- People who provide essential support for family members, friends and colleagues on a daily basis, or have demonstrated the ability to overcome great adversity
- Those who are accepting and tolerant of people from different backgrounds and who lead initiatives to welcome newcomers into their local community
- People who are able to engender a sense of togetherness in their local community
Applicants must be born on or after 1 April 2008 with parental consent required for those will be aged 17 or under on 1 March 2020. Non-residents of Japan are also eligible to apply.