The official countdown to the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics Games has begun.
On Thursday, the first group of runners carried the Olympic torch through Fukushima, in the first test of measures that organisers insist will ensure a “safe and secure” event in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
After a brief opening ceremony (which was closed to the public) on a football pitch inside the J-Village training complex, members of the Japan women’s football team began the torch’s 120-day journey through 859 locations, culminating in the opening ceremony at the Olympic stadium on 23 July.
Azusa Iwashimizu, one of Japan’s 2011 World Cup-winning women’s footballers, was the first to carry the rose-gold, cherry blossom-shaped torch, accompanied by former teammates.
She passed the flame to Fukushima high school student Asato Owada, who like all the runners wore an official white tracksuit with a red diagonal stripe.
The event will hold on from the 23rd of July to 8th of August 2021.