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Olympic torch relay to start without fans

TOKYO >> The organizing committee for the Tokyo Games is planning to hold a spectator-free launch of the torch relay, which will start March 25 from J-Village, a soccer facility in Fukushima Prefecture, to prevent spread of the coronavirus.

According to the committee, J-Village was selected as the starting point because it is a location for recovery work after the 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, which followed the magnitude-9 earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan.

At the ceremony, the torch will be lit for the first time with the Olympic flame brought to Japan last year from Greece.

Prior to the postponement of the Games, there were to be 3,000 public spectators, and a chorus of local children was scheduled to be among those performing. But with the possibility of crowds forming when virus infections have yet to be brought under control, events for the ceremony were drastically scaled back.

As the relay proceeds, residents along the route will be allowed to view torch bearers running on public roads. They are urged to physically distance, wear masks and clap, not cheer. Residents can book reservations to attend the torch’s arrival ceremony at their locations.

The relay will involve about 10,000 bearers over 121 days.

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