The Olympic torch was lit in Japan this morning to launch the official countdown to the postponed 2020 Tokyo Games.
The Japan women’s football team kicked off the relay at the J-Village training complex in Fukushima, on the 10th anniversary of the 2011 earthquake-tsunami and meltdown of three local nuclear reactors.
Under the relay theme “Hope Lights Our Way”, the first of 10,000 torchbearers was Azusa Iwashimizu, a member of the Japanese women’s football team that won the 2011 World Cup.
The torch is on a 120-day journey through 857 locations, culminating in the opening ceremony at the National Stadium in Tokyo on July 23. The relay is being kept low-key, with crowds discouraged to ensure compliance with Covid-19 controls. The pandemic forced postponement of the Olympics last year.
Flag relay in Thailand
Thailand launches its own Games countdown on Sunday, when the “Flag of Nation” relay run will set off on a journey of 61 days through 35 provinces.
Starting from the National Stadium in Bangkok, the Thai flag will be carried by 4,568 bearers – athletes, celebrities and members of the public – before being delivered to Suvarnabhumi Airport to take off with Thai Olympic athletes on May 27.
Spectators can watch the flag runners as they make their way through Bangkok, Samut Sakhon, Samut Songkhram, Phetchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chumphon, Surat Thani, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Songkhla, Phatthalung, Ratchaburi, Nakhon Pathom, Kanchanaburi, Suphan Buri, Chainat, Nakhon Sawan, Kamphaeng, Phet Tak, Pang Lap, Lamphun, Chiang Mai, Phrae, Uttaradit, Phitsanulok, Phetchabun, Chaiyaphum, Khon Kaen, Nakhon Ratchasima, Buri Ram, Sa Kaeo, Chanthaburi, Rayong, Chon Buri, Chachoengsao, and Samut Prakan.