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World Japan welcomes Olympic flame as doubts swirl over Games

00:18  20 march  2020
00:18  20 march  2020 Source:   msn.com

Coronavirus: Tokyo 2020 - 50,000 Japanese pilgrims to the Olympic flame despite the epidemic

 Coronavirus: Tokyo 2020 - 50,000 Japanese pilgrims to the Olympic flame despite the epidemic Despite the spread of the Corona virus, tens of thousands have gathered in Japan to admire the Olympic flame. Meanwhile, Tokyo is apparently working on plans to postpone the games. © Kyodo News / imago images Despite the measures against the spread of the corona virus, tens of thousands of people have set off to the Olympic fire in Japan. More than 50,000 flocked to Sendai Station in Miyagi Prefecture on Saturday, where the flame was presented in a golden cauldron.

The Olympic flame from Greece is set to arrive in Japan even as the opening of the Tokyo Games in four months is in doubt with more voices suggesting the Even if they don’t, the burning flame could be used as a symbol — particularly if the games are eventually delayed — and a rallying point for the

Olympics - Olympic Flame Handover Ceremony - Panathenaic Stadium, Athens, Greece - March The flame was then transferred into a small receptacle to travel to Japan aboard a special aircraft Despite the IOC’s commitment to the Games , several athletes have cast doubt on the quality of

a group of people standing around a plane: The flame will be picked up in a special charter plane © STR The flame will be picked up in a special charter plane

The Olympic flame arrives in Japan on Friday, with what should have been a joyous celebration dramatically downscaled as doubts grow over whether the Tokyo Games can go ahead during the coronavirus pandemic.

Organisers have already taken the "heartbreaking" decision to pare back events surrounding the torch relay, as the world battles the virus that has killed more than 9,000 people and threatens to spark a global recession.

a person throwing a frisbee: The Olympic torch relay has already been pared back © Valerie GACHE The Olympic torch relay has already been pared back

The flame arrives on a special charter flight into Matsushima Air Base in the Japanese province of Miyagi, deliberately chosen as part of the "Recovery Olympics" to showcase the region's revival after the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown.

Tokyo 2020 'Flame of Recovery' tour scaled down due to coronavirus worries

  Tokyo 2020 'Flame of Recovery' tour scaled down due to coronavirus worries Tokyo 2020 'Flame of Recovery' tour scaled down due to coronavirus worriesThe six day tour was set to begin on Friday, and takes place before the official torch relay begins on March 26. It will visit locations in Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima prefectures, the areas hardest hit by the disaster.

Greece's Olympic Committee chief Spyros Capralos handed over the lit torch to the Japanese former Olympic swimmer Imoto in front of empty stands inside the vast 50,000-capacity horseshoe-shaped marble stadium. The flame was then transferred into a small receptacle to travel to Japan aboard a

The moves come as doubts increase whether the Games can open as planned on July 24, with the So-called " welcome programmes" by local municipalities will be scrapped. The flame is set to arrive Japanese Olympic organisers had already scaled down festivities to celebrate the flame 's arrival at a

a person standing next to a fence: The virus affected even the traditional lighting ceremony in ancient Olympia © ARIS MESSINIS The virus affected even the traditional lighting ceremony in ancient Olympia

But some 200 local children that were due to welcome the flame will be kept away as part of measures designed to halt the spread of the virus, which has infected 900 people in Japan.

The relay begins on March 26, starting from the J-Village sports complex in Fukushima that was commandeered as a base by workers scrambling to contain the fall-out from the nuclear meltdown.

"The Olympic flame relay is the biggest event ahead of the Olympics. It is very important for us to carry it out at any cost. It is an opportunity for people outside Tokyo to feel a sense of affinity for the Olympics," said Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto.

The coronavirus has already affected the relay. In what Muto described as a "heartbreaking" decision, organisers have been forced to scale back what should have been a key event to raise awareness and excitement ahead of the July 24 opening ceremony.

The Olympic Games postponed to 2021

 The Olympic Games postponed to 2021 ​​© Provided by Sofoot No headache for Kylian Mbappé this summer. It was expected, it is now official: the 2020 Summer Olympics, planned in Japan, are officially postponed to 2021. This was announced by in a press release from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) published this Tuesday in the early afternoon. A decision which is obviously explained by the coronavirus pandemic which currently affects the entire planet.

The Olympic flame is a symbol used in the Olympic movement. It is also a symbol of continuity between ancient and modern games .

Greece on Thursday handed over the Olympic flame to Tokyo 2020 organisers at a ceremony held behind closed doors amid calls for the Olympics to be postponed over the coronavirus pandemic. In the absence of spectators, Olympic gymnastics champion Lefteris Petrounias ran a lap with the

Gerard Butler holding a baseball bat: The Greek leg of the relay was cancelled when crowds mobbed Hollywood star Gerard Butler © Valerie Gache The Greek leg of the relay was cancelled when crowds mobbed Hollywood star Gerard Butler

While spectators are allowed to watch from the roadside, fans have been urged to "avoid forming crowds", with organisers warning there could be a change of programme in the event of "excessive congestion".

Daily arrival and departure ceremonies are closed to the public and all torch-bearers will have their temperatures taken before participating in the relay, which is scheduled to visit every part of Japan before entering Tokyo in mid-July.

- 'Bigger than the Olympics' -

The virus has already played havoc with the traditional early stages of the torch relay in Greece -- the lighting ceremony in ancient Olympia took place without spectators and was watched by a severely reduced delegation from Tokyo.

Organisers were then forced to scrap the Greek leg of the relay after large crowds mobbed Hollywood actor Gerard Butler as he lit a cauldron in the city of Sparta.

Japan says Olympics on track despite Trump's suggestion to postpone

  Japan says Olympics on track despite Trump's suggestion to postpone Japan says Olympics on track despite Trump's suggestion to postponeSuga did not confirm or deny whether Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe discussed Trump's comments in a phone call earlier on Friday. The two leaders spoke for about 50 minutes about the coronavirus pandemic, among other topics, Suga said.

Tokyo 2020 organisers received the Olympic flame in a scaled-down handover ceremony in the Greek capital on Thursday, amid the coronavirus spread that Greece's Olympic Committee chief Spyros Capralos handed over the lit torch to the Japanese former Olympic swimmer Imoto in front of empty

Greece on Thursday handed over the Olympic flame to Tokyo 2020 organisers at a ceremony held behind closed doors amid calls for the Olympics to be postponed over the coronavirus pandemic. In the absence of spectators, Olympic gymnastics champion Lefteris Petrounias ran a lap with the

With borders shut in Europe -- which has become the epicentre of the crisis -- Tokyo officials will not be travelling to collect the torch, with former Olympic swimmer Naoko Imoto representing Japan at the official handover.

As the flame arrives, there are increasing clouds over the Games, with some athletes past and present attacking the International Olympic Committee for insisting there is no need for "drastic" action such as postponement or cancellation.

"This crisis is bigger than even the Olympics," fumed Hayley Wickenheiser, a Canadian IOC member with four ice hockey golds.

"I think the IOC insisting this will move ahead, with such conviction, is insensitive and irresponsible given the state of humanity," she added.

As well as wiping out the global sporting calendar, the coronavirus has also put paid to many athletes' training schedules, leading some to propose a postponement.

The IOC, which will take any decision over the fate of the Games, has encouraged all athletes to train for the Games "as best they can", stressing it is "fully committed" to holding the event as planned.

Nevertheless, IOC president Thomas Bach has admitted that qualifying is becoming a problem as competitions are scrapped.

"No solution will be ideal in this situation," an IOC spokesman acknowledged in comments to AFP on Wednesday.

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Postponing Tokyo Olympics due to coronavirus pandemic begins year of tough adjustments for sporting world .
It was welcomed by athletes around the world, but the decision to postpone the Tokyo Olympics until 2021 was easy in comparison to what comes next, writes Tracey Holmes.On Tuesday evening Tokyo time, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe joined IOC president Thomas Bach and other Olympic officials — including Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates — in a conference call where it was agreed the Games be postponed due to the global impact of coronavirus.

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