TOKYO: The Olympic flame reached in Tokyo on Friday, but the public was shut out of a low-key welcome ceremony due to fears of coronavirus, just one day after the heartbreaking announcement that spectators would be prohibited from most Games events.
The flame was taken on stage in a lantern and given to Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike on a rainy morning, exactly two weeks before the opening ceremony of the biggest sporting event since the pandemic began.
On Thursday night, Tokyo 2020 organisers and government officials confirmed that fans will be barred from attending Olympic games in the capital which will be under a virus emergency throughout the Games.
It implies that the Games, which have been postponed because to the epidemic, will be the first to be held largely behind closed doors. A few competitions will be held outside of the capital.
The torch relay was intended to raise excitement of the Games but it has been removed from public highways in the capital to avoid people from spreading the virus as infection rates grow.
Before the flame arrived, five male trumpet players dressed in suits performed a spirited melody in front of only a few journalists and officials, under a gazebo to keep them out of the drizzle.
The Komazawa Olympic Park stadium in the capital’s southeastern outskirts, which hosted the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, was devoid of spectators.
“I’m pleased we’re welcoming the torch relay,” Koike said. “These are legacies we proudly display at home and abroad,” he added.
The opening ceremony which will be staged at the National Stadium in the city centre will give athletes a taste of what to expect.
The decision to bar fans came after the government announced that a state of emergency will be declared in Tokyo throughout the Games to prevent a resurgence of illnesses and worries of the more infectious Delta variant.
Koike couldn’t hide her dissatisfaction with the lack of spectators at the Games.”This choice has left me in a state of heartbreaking grief,” she stated.
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