Tokyo Olympic torch relay to pass through Japan’s disaster-hit areas

It will cross all of Japan’s 47 prefectures, travelling to 857 municipalities, and pass by many iconic landmarks over a period of 121 days.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games torch being displayed during its unveiling press conference on March 20, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan.   -  Getty Images

The 2020 Tokyo Olympic torch relay, which was slated to commence on March 26 in Fukushima — an area hit by the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster — will start at the J-Village sports training centre that housed workers who battled to remove radioactive waste after the killer tsunami.

It will then cross all of Japan’s 47 prefectures, travelling to 857 municipalities, and pass by many iconic landmarks over a period of 121 days.

Around 98 percent of Japan’s population live within one hour by car or train of the proposed route, Tokyo organisers added.

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The torch relay will pass World Heritage sites such as Mt Fuji and the Miyajima shrine famous for its “floating” gate.

It will also visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, dedicated to the victims of the world’s first atomic bombing in 1945, before arriving at Tokyo’s new Olympic stadium to cap the opening ceremony on July 24.

More than 18,000 people were killed or went missing after a 9.0-magnitude earthquake caused a massive tsunami that smashed into Japan’s northern Tohoku region and led to the meltdown of three reactors at the Fukushima nuclear plant.

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The fallout from the world’s worst nuclear accident in 25 years forced more than 470,000 people to be evacuated.

Tokyo beat Madrid and Istanbul in the race to host the 2020 Olympics, including the reconstruction of disaster-hit areas in its candidature file.

The Flame Lighting Ceremony is scheduled to take place in Ancient Olympia, home of the ancient Games in Greece, on March 12 when a high priestess will ignite the Olympic flame by using the sun’s rays and a parabolic mirror.

The Greek leg of the torch relay will then run for eight days before the flame is handed to Tokyo 2020 in Athens on March 19.