SPORTS


Olympic Torch relay reaches Tokyo but amid COVID-19 restrictions lacks usual fanfare

Baku, July 9, AZERTAC

The Tokyo segment of the Olympic torch relay started this morning with a small ceremony, a day after organisers decided to stage the games without spectators, according to ABC News.

Two weeks before the Olympics is due to begin, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike attended a ceremony with little fanfare for the passing of the torch at Komazawa Olympic Park.

Outside, a small group of protesters who want the Games cancelled stood with signs, microphones and trumpets.

They could be heard inside the stadium as the ceremony took place.

With the event held behind closed doors, most people walking past were not aware of what was happening.

The relay began in March in northeastern Japan but has faced multiple detours and was scaled back due to coronavirus restrictions.

That has included pulling some stages of the Tokyo Olympic torch relay off public roads of the Japanese capital. At times, it has been run only in public park spaces.

The original plan was for the relay to finish on July 23 when the flame would be used to light the Olympic Cauldron during the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

But instead of cheering crowds, the flame will be ushered in to a relatively empty stadium with Tokyo under a state of emergency until August 22 amid rising COVID-19 infections.

Organisers agreed yesterday to hold the Games without spectators, with Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto saying it was "regrettable" that the Olympics were going to be held in a limited format.

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