Hope Lights Our Way
The torch relay for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games will start in Fukushima Prefecture, which was ravaged by an earthquake and a subsequent tsunami in 2011.
The route was signed off on Thursday by the Organising Committee at a meeting with the central and Tokyo governments.
The relay will start on March 26th, 2020 and will last 121 days, 15 days longer than the journey undertaken ahead of Rio 2016.
Organisers of the 2020 Games are eager to showcase Japan’s recovery from the disaster.
The torch is scheduled to travel to all 47 Japanese prefectures and arrive in Tokyo’s New National Stadium for the Opening Ceremony on July 24th.
'Coming to Life'
The announcement came on the last day of the latest IOC Coordination Committee visit to the Japanese capital.
Tokyo 2020 President Yoshiro Mori said, “It is very meaningful that the Olympic Torch Relay will traverse the whole country, given our hope that the Olympic Games will leave their mark on future generations and provide legacies for the children of Japan.
“I believe these Olympic Games will help lift the spirits of all of the people in Japan, and provide a particular boost to the feelings of people in the affected areas.”
IOC Coordination Commission chair John Coates said, “As we near the two-years-to-go mark, the Games are really coming to life, with the Olympic Torch Relay showing the power of sport.”
The three-day visit included tours of venues including the Tokyo Stadium, Musashino Forest Sport Plaza, and the Equestrian Park.
Coates added, “The Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee has presented considerable progress since our previous Coordination Commission visit last year, especially as it relates to venue and operational readiness.”
“Tokyo 2020 will also welcome media and National Olympic Committees later this year and host its first Test Event in September, while fans can also expect announcements around mascots, tickets, the session schedule and volunteering all in the next few months.”
The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay will travel clockwise south from Fukushima Prefecture with the country’s famous cherry blossoms providing a stunning backdrop.
As well as three days in Fukushima, which will host softball and baseball, the torch will have three-day stays in the two other prefectures –Iwate and Miyagi – most affected by the 2011 Tohoku earthquake.
On April 2-3, the torch will pass through Nagano which hosted the 1998 Winter Games.
The route continues in a south-westerly direction before travelling to Okinawa Island – 650km south of Japan’s four main islands – at the start of May.
It’s all north from there with the flame spending three days apiece in each of the four prefectures –Chiba, Kanagawa, Saitama and Shizuoka – hosting multiple competitions at Tokyo 2020.
Finally, the torch will tour Tokyo Prefecture for 15 days culminating in the Opening Ceremony.