Athens, 18 March 2020 (dpa/MIA) — Tokyo 2020 has received the Olympic Flame from Greece in a stripped-down handover ceremony, owing to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Former Japanese swimmer Naoko Imoto, who lives in Greece, received the flame lit last week in ancient Olympia at an empty Panathenaic Stadium, which hosted the first modern Olympics in 1896.
Greek Olympic Committee chief Spyros Capralos said, “We hope the Olympic Flame extinguishes the virus,” while Japanese organizing chief Yoshiro Mori made his address via video link.
The International Olympic Committee is pressing on with preparations for the July 24-Aug. 9 Games despite the global health crisis and criticism from athletes and sports officials.
The flame is to arrive in Japan on Friday.
A toned-down torch relay starts March 26 in the Fukushima prefecture.
It was hit hard in 2011 by an earthquake, tsunami, and the meltdown of three reactors at the local nuclear plant.