The Olympic torchlight procession over Tokyo’s roads is cancelled, officials announced on Wednesday. The reason for the cancellation is that Japan is still ravaged by the coronavirus.
As a replacement, private ceremonies will be held from Friday, according to the city council of the Japanese capital. In addition, until the opening ceremony on July 23, torchlight events will be shown online, with authorities urging onlookers to watch them “in the comfort of your home.”
Only the relay race in the Ogasawara Islands, a remote archipelago about 1000 kilometres south of Tokyo, will continue as planned.
The nationwide torchlight procession has been controversial since early March, with about half of the procession being disrupted in some way. In tourist cities like Kyoto and Hiroshima, the relay race disappeared from public roads for fear that fans would spread the virus. On Sunday, a 53-year-old woman was arrested after spraying a runner with liquid from a water pistol.
Organizers have yet to decide how many Japanese can attend the postponed Games and have warned that events could be held behind closed doors. Fans from outside the country are not welcome anyway. The government is expected to extend anti-virus measures in Tokyo and elsewhere this week, followed by a decision on Olympic fans.