The Olympic flame arrived in Tokyo on Friday but the general public kept away at a low-key welcoming ceremony due to coronavirus fears, the day after a “heartbreaking” announcement that spectators would be banned from most Games events. On a rainy morning exactly fortnight before the opening ceremony of the most important sporting event since the pandemic began, the flame was brought on stage with a lantern and handed to Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike. Tokyo 2020 organizers and officialdom on Thursday night announced their decision to bar fans from Olympic events within the capital, which can be under an epidemic emergency throughout the Games.
It means the pandemic-postponed Games are going to be the primary to require place largely behind closed doors. a couple of competitions will happen outside the capital.
The torch relay was meant to create excitement for the Games, but it’s been pulled from public roads within the capital to stop crowds from spreading the virus as infections rise.
Before the flame arrived, five male trumpet players wearing suits played a rousing melody under a gazebo to shelter them from the drizzle, ahead of only journalists and a couple of officials.
The stands stood empty at the Komazawa Olympic Park stadium within the capital’s southeastern suburbs, which was utilized in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.
“I’m glad that we welcome the torch relay, with these legacies we proudly show reception and abroad,” Koike said.
But the Tokyo governor, who was recently hospitalized for exhaustion, coughed 3 times during her brief speech and a number of other more times then.
Friday’s event gave a taste of the atmosphere that would await athletes at the opening ceremony, to be held at the National Stadium within the city center.
The decision to bar fans came after the govt said a state of emergency would be imposed in Tokyo throughout the Games to curb a rebound in infections and fears over the more infectious Delta variant.
On Thursday night, Koike couldn’t hide her disappointment at having any fans at the Games.
“I feel heartbreaking grief about this decision,” she said.
When the 2020 Games were postponed last year because the scale of the pandemic became clear, there was talk they might be staged as proof the planet had overcome the virus.
But that triumphant tone has given thanks to the tough reality of the latest infection surges and more contagious variants, including the Delta strain that has led to virus resurgences in many countries.
The nationwide torch relay has been fraught with problems since it began in March, with almost half the legs disrupted in how.
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The relay was forced off public roads in famous tourist cities like Kyoto and Hiroshima over fears that crowds of fans could spread the virus.
And it’s also met with some public opposition, with a 53-year-old woman arrested on Sunday for squirting liquid from a water gun towards a runner.