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Olympic torch relay: No torch, no torchbearers, no public

There will be an Olympic flame — that arrived on March 12 from Greece — carried in a lantern and transported by a vehicle along what organizers hope will be empty roadsides, and with curious onlookers practicing social distancing to avoid spreading the coronavirus.

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Last Updated: Mar 24, 2020, 12.35 PM IST
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Kyodo says the new name to replace "Torch Relay" will be "Torch Visits."
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TOKYO: The Tokyo Olympic torch relay will start Thursday as planned in northeastern Fukushima prefecture — but with no torch, no torchbearers, no public, and little ceremony.

There will be an Olympic flame — that arrived on March 12 from Greece — carried in a lantern and transported by a vehicle along what organizers hope will be empty roadsides, and with curious onlookers practicing social distancing to avoid spreading the coronavirus.

National broadcaster NHK has reported the plan, as has Japanese news agency Kyodo.

Organizing committee CEO Toshiro Muto was to explain the full details later on Tuesday.

"I wish at least a runner could get in a car with the flame on the route," Akio Oguchi, who was planning to run in the Nagano area, told Kyodo.

The Tokyo Games and the relay have been caught in limbo since International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said four weeks were needed to decide on an inevitable postponement of the planned opening on July 24. He has ruled out a cancellation.

Kyodo says the new name to replace "Torch Relay" will be "Torch Visits." Under any name, it could be a very short event — or the longest if it runs into 2021.

The Canadian and the Australian Olympic committees have already they will not send teams if the event remains scheduled for July. Other nations have followed suit, forcing the IOC and Japanese organizers to adjust plans, but create a mild farce as they attempt to hold on to others.

The Australian Olympic Committee is a bellwether. Its president is John Coates, a close ally of Bach, and also the head of an IOC inspection team that has visited Japan dozens of times. Coates is self-quarantined because of the virus, but his CEO Matt Carroll stated Australia's position on Monday after a teleconference with the executive board.

"We have decided a plan towards hosting of the games in 2021 in Tokyo," Carroll said.
(Catch all the Business News, Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on The Economic Times.)

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