After a whole year put on the back burner due to the COVID-19 pandemic the countdown to Tokyo 2020 is finally on.
Marking the official beginning of the road to the Olympics, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay has started in Fukushima, Japan, today March 25.
It will then travel through all of the country’s 47 prefectures over the next 121 days before arriving in Tokyo for the Olympic Games Opening Ceremony on July 23.
The route is unchanged from a year ago when the Games were postponed and will see the Olympic flame travel through 859 municipalities, passing within a short distance of the majority of the Japanese population.
The flame’s journey will begin in the J-Village national football training facility in Naraha, Fukushima, one of several areas badly hit by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.
This particular location is befitting of Tokyo’s Olympic Torch Relay concept – “Hope Lights Our Way’, reflecting the flame’s symbolism of hope and peace, which is particularly relevant considering the challenges faced both within Japan and across the world in recent times.
The honour of being the first torchbearer goes to Nadeshiko Japan, the football team who won the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Their victory played an important role in helping uplift the nation still reeling from the aftermath of the disaster that year.
Over 10,000 torchbearers, hand-selected from over half-a-million applicants, will have the responsibility of carrying the Olympic flame on its journey across Japan. Each torchbearer will celebrate the best in each of us – chosen for their ability to overcome adversity.
They will be part of a unique Olympic Torch Relay, aimed at uniting people around messages of supporting, accepting and encouraging one another, illustrating how much stronger we are, together.
The torch design, with its pink gold colour, was inspired by cherry blossom, a flower synonymous with Japanese spring, it also embodies Tokyo 2020’s commitment to sustainability.
Approximately 30 percent of the torch is made from recycled aluminium that was used for temporary housing after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
While hydrogen, which emits no carbon dioxide when burned, will be used to fuel the torch for selected legs of the Relay.
In addition, torchbearers will be outfitted with uniforms made from recycled plastic bottles collected by Olympic Worldwide Partner Coca-Cola.
Today’s activities come just over a year after the Olympic flame first touched down in Japan, on 20 March 2020 at Matsushima Airbase in Miyagi, after being lit in Greece at Ancient Olympia.
Following the postponement of the Games by a year to 2021, the Olympic flame found a home at the new Olympic Museum in Tokyo, and from there it visited 14 Prefectures and 86 municipalities, welcomed with great enthusiasm by the Japanese public and media wherever it went.
It is estimated that the flame received over 62,000 visitors.
You can follow all the latest from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay on both the Olympic and Tokyo 2020’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram channels, and through the hashtags #Tokyo2020, #TorchRelay, #OlympicFlame and #StrongerTogether.
Tokyo 2020 is also running a Twitter channel devoted to the Relay using the handle @tokyo2020seika.