torch relay for Tokyo Olympics is finally under way. The 2020 Summer Games were postponed due to coronavirus pandemic but organizers have been determined to ensure they go ahead in July. Members of Japan women's football team ran as torchbearers in first leg of the relay on Thursday. It began in Fukushima Prefecture, which was devastated by triple disasters of 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown. The relay torch is made of aluminium recycled from prefabricated housing built for survivors of triple calamity. Fukushima was chosen as start of the relay to show the area has recovered, although many people say claims of recovery are little premature.
head of Japan's Olympic organizing committee, Seiko Hashimoto, opened torch relay ceremony. She said in her opening address: "The flame will embark on 121-day journey and will carry the hopes of Japanese people and wishes for peace." Japanese people are being encouraged to look at live broadcasts of relay and refrain from travelling to watch it amid fears of spike in COVID 19 cases. Spectators must wear face masks, and are being urged to clap rather than cheer. Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga reiterated his commitment to stage "safe and secure" Olympics in spite of pandemic. He said: "We will do our utmost on coronavirus measures."