Baku, February 15, AZERTAC
With just over a month until the Olympic flame arrives in the country, organizers of this summer's Tokyo Games held a dress rehearsal Saturday for the Japan leg of the torch relay, according to Kyodo News.
Four runners carried unlit Olympic torches for around 200 meters each in the western Tokyo city of Hamura on Saturday morning, as the organizers went over preparations for the start of the domestic portion of the relay on March 26.
With traffic restrictions in place, torchbearers in the official white uniforms ran on the road in front of spectators, including local residents and government officials.
Security personnel and police stood along the route, while promotional vehicles for sponsors of the event traveled the course while playing music from speakers.
Using unlit torches, the participants acted out passing the flame.
Actress Satomi Ishihara, who has been selected to take part in the Olympic torch relay, ran the third segment of the rehearsal.
"I was very nervous before running. But it went by so fast," Ishihara, 33, said.
"I'm really glad I was able to rehearse ahead of the start of the torch relay because I ended up running too fast today."
With events running some 10 minutes behind schedule, a departing ceremony was held ahead of the first runner. Participants simulated the lighting of a torch on a small outdoor stage, while spectators took photos and video with their smartphones as the torchbearer set off.
"There was a lively parade so it was even fun waiting for the relay to start. I'm really looking forward to the Tokyo Olympics," said Manami Nishimaki, a local elementary school student who watched the rehearsal with a friend.
The 71-centimeter torch, which draws on the imagery of Japan's iconic cherry blossoms, will also be carried in the Tokyo cities of Kokubunji and Hachioji later in the day.
A celebration will also be rehearsed when the torch arrives at its destination in Hachioji.
The Olympic flame will be lit in Greece on March 12 and will arrive in Japan following the Greek leg of the relay.
The domestic segment of the relay will commence in Fukushima Prefecture. About 10,000 torchbearers will wind their way through all 47 Japanese prefectures before making an entrance at the opening ceremony, to be held at Tokyo's National Stadium on July 24.
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