Olympic Torch Relay Canceled as COVID-19 Cases Rise Ahead of Tokyo Olympics 2021

Published 07/07/2021, 3:48 AM EDT
Torches are pictured during the torch kiss event, after the relay on public road was cancelled due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, during Tokyo 2020 Olympic torch relay celebration in Sammu, Chiba Prefecture, Japan, July 1, 2021. REUTERS/Issei Kato TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY


The Olympic torch relay is one of the most symbolic events in the lead-up to the Olympic Games. However, as the COVID-19 cases rise in the Japanese capital of Tokyo, the organizers have decided to scrap the torch relay ahead of Tokyo Olympics 2021.

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The torch relay was supposed to begin next week on the public roads of Tokyo. And many fans were expected to be there as the organizers looked to build up the hype surrounding the games. The torch relay has been going on in various parts of Japan and now was supposed to make its footfall in Tokyo. But now it won’t happen.

A torchbearer runs while members of Japanese Self-Defence Forces look on. REUTERS/Androniki Christodoulou

Tokyo has been seeing a daily rise in COVID-19 cases with over 4000 cases reported over the last week. Hence seeing the popularity of the torch relay, the organizers decided to not stage it on the public roads. The original plan was to go through the public roads of Tokyo and then at the opening ceremony the torch would make its entry into the National Stadium in Tokyo.

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“We have prepared with the hope of having people run on public roads, so it is really unfortunate. It is important to connect the flame, and we would like to have the event finish with smiles on people’s faces,” a Tokyo official said.

Sponsor truck and staff lead the relay before the runners’ arrival during the first day of a Tokyo 2020 Olympic torch relay. REUTERS/Androniki Christodoulou

When did the Tokyo Olympics 2021 torch relay start?

The torch relay started in March and originally 10,000 runners had to run across the 47 different districts of Japan. But at many places, the relay was disrupted because of COVID-19 restrictions. And now in the last leg of the relay at Tokyo, the same is likely to happen.

“There’s no use saying that I want to run. I just need to follow whatever decision is made,” said Hideo Sato, a runner scheduled to carry the torch in the second half of the Tokyo leg.

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The torch relay has also received criticism from the Japanese public as well. With the cases rising they don’t want the government to hold the mega-event. But the government has ensured that all precautions will be followed for a safe Olympics.

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Bhavishya Mittal

1226 articles

Bhavishya Mittal is a tennis author for EssentiallySports, who is currently pursuing his Bachelor's degree in Journalism from Manipal University. A former sports editor for The Manipal Journal, Bhavishya has also worked for The New Indian Express. He has a keen eye for many sports but he is a particularly ardent follower of tennis, with a zest to create riveting articles on the ever-evolving sport.

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