ANKARA – The torch relay for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games started on Thursday in Japan's northeastern prefecture of Fukushima.
The opening ceremony was held at the J-Village football training center but without spectators due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Japanese women's football team members, who bagged the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup, were the premier torchbearers, with Japanese defender Azusa Iwashimizu taking the torch first.
"The flame kept burning quietly but powerfully, even as the world faced difficult times over the past year," organizing committee chief Seiko Hashimoto said.
"The flame will embark on a 121-day journey and will carry the hopes of the Japanese people and wishes for peace from people around the world," she added.
After a four-month journey across 47 Japanese prefectures, the torch’s final destination will be the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on July 23, when Tokyo 2020's opening ceremony will be held.
The coronavirus pandemic forced the 2020 games to be postponed for a year. The multi-sport event is now scheduled from July 23 until Aug. 8, without overseas spectators.