Tokyo Olympic organizers yesterday said that the torch relay for the 2020 Summer Games would begin in Fukushima Prefecture, a region devastated by a 2011 tsunami and resulting nuclear disaster.
The route for the relay, scheduled to start on March 26, 2020, was approved by the Japanese organizing committee at a meeting with government officials.
The torch is to head south to subtropical Okinawa — the starting point for the 1964 Tokyo Games relay — before returning north and arriving in the Japanese capital on July 10, 2020, the organizers said.
“It is very significant to carry the torch of reconstruction across the country, beginning in Fukushima,” Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said.
Fukushima suffered heavily from the massive March 2011 tsunami, which was caused by an earthquake and slammed into a nuclear plant, triggering meltdowns of three reactors.
More than 18,000 people died in northeast Japan as a result of the huge earthquake and tsunami, while tens of thousands have been unable to return to their hometowns.
“By naming Fukushima as the starting point of the torch relay, it marks these Olympics as the Games of recovery,” said Masayoshi Yoshino, Japan’s minister in charge of reconstruction in the region. “We would like to see survivors take part as torch runners to help people in the disaster-hit areas.”
The torch is to visit all 47 Japanese prefectures before the lighting of the Olympic cauldron when the Games open on July 24, 2020.
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