Olympic Torch Relay starts in Japan

The torch relay for the Tokyo Olympics has started. The Games were postponed due to coronavirus but organizers are determined they will go ahead in July. Members of Japan's women's football team carried the torch in the first leg of the relay. It began in Fukushima, which was devastated by the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown. The relay torch is made of aluminium recycled from housing built for survivors of the triple disaster. Fukushima was chosen as the start of the relay to show it has recovered. Many people say claims of recovery are premature.

The head of Japan's Olympic organizing committee opened the relay ceremony. She said in her address: "The flame will embark on a 121-day journey and will carry the hopes…and wishes for peace." She asked Japanese people to look at live broadcasts of the relay and not travel to watch it because of a spike in COVID 19 cases. Spectators must wear face masks and clap rather than cheer. Japan's Prime Minister restated his commitment to stage a "safe and secure" Olympics in spite of the pandemic. He said: "We will do our utmost on coronavirus measures."