Japan's Olympic organizers want to use the torch relay to spark enthusiasm among the people for the summer games. The run through all 47 prefectures of the country, which begins this Thursday in Fukushima, should bring "hope, energy and strength" to each of the destinations, said the new head of organization Seiko Hashimoto on Wednesday. Exactly a year ago to the day, the games had been postponed due to the corona pandemic. </p><div> <p>They are now to be held from July 23 to August 8, 2021. In view of the ongoing pandemic, the 10,000 or so torchbearers would help "connect people," said Hashimoto, expressing her hope that four months before the start of the Olympics, there would be a change in mood. In surveys, a majority of the Japanese had recently spoken out against hosting the Olympic Games this year in view of the ongoing pandemic.</p>
Several prominent torchbearers had recently withdrawn due to concerns about the spread of the coronavirus. “The people’s passion was there. We want to bring this feeling back so that we can turn their worries into anticipation,” said Hashimoto recently before the symbolic start of the torch relay in Fukushima. The motto of the torch relay is “Hope lights our way”.
One is aware that there are still people who have fears about the games, said OK managing director Toshiro Muto on Wednesday. The torch relay is seen as a test of whether the games – as the organizers say – can really take place safely. Extensive security measures are in place to make it a success.
The ceremony to kick off the torch relay in the J-Village in Fukushima will take place without an audience and in a stripped-down form. The place is a football training center that served as the headquarters for the crisis managers of the GAU during the nuclear disaster in March 2011 as a result of an earthquake and tsunami. The aim of the torch relay is to show the world the progress in the reconstruction of the region and to express “gratitude” for the help from all over the world, said the 56-year-old Hashimoto.