OLYMPICS

Tokyo 2020 Olympic torch relay to start in Fukushima

Tokyo 2020 Olympic torch relay to start in Fukushima

KAZUHIRO NOGI

AFP

The torch relay will traverse Japan over 121 days, spending extra time in the tsunami and earthquake-affected Tohoku region.

Tokyo 2020 Olympic organizers said Thursday that the torch relay will begin in Fukushima, a prefecture part of the Tohoku region, devastated by the 2011 tsunami and subsequent nuclear disaster.

The route of the relay will start 26 March, 2020, after the Olympic flame arrives from its ceremonial lighting in Olympia, Greece.

Throughout 121 days, the torch will visit all 47 prefectures of Japan, spending extra time in the tsunami and earthquake-affected Tohoku region.

‘It is very significant to carry the torch of reconstruction across the country, beginning in Fukushima,’ Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said.

Hope lights our way

The Fukushima prefecture suffered heavily in the March 2011 tsunami, which slammed into a nuclear plant and triggered the meltdown of three reactors.

After the disaster, more than 18,000 people died or went missing.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Tokyo organizers have been eager to use the Games as a symbol of recovery from the earthquake-tsunami.

With the motto ‘Hope lights our ways’, the relay will visit the three most affected prefectures: Fukushima (March 26-28), Iwate (June 17-19) and Miyagi (June 20-22).

‘By naming Fukushima as the starting point of the torch relay, it marks these Olympics as the Games of the recovery,’ Masayoshi Yoshino, Japan’s disaster reconstruction minister, told local media. ‘We would like to see survivors take part as torch runners to help people in the disaster-hit areas’.

Last year, Tokyo 2020 organizers confirmed that some baseball and softball games will be held in Fukushima.

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