The People who Support the Olympic Torch Relay Behind the Scenes
About 10,000 torchbearers will participate in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay that will traverse all 47 prefectures in Japan. Over the course of the 121-day schedule that will kick off on 25 March 2021, the relay will be supported by many people behind the scenes across Japan who will make sure the Olympic torch will be passed on safely. We conducted interviews to ask some of these people how they feel about their important task.
In every prefecture, while the Torch Relay takes place, Japanese police officers will run alongside the torchbearers as ‘security runners’ to ensure the safe operation of the Torch Relay. KIMURA Go, who is assigned to the No. 4 Riot Police Unit of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department (TMPD), will serve as a security runner during the Torch Relay in Tokyo. We asked him how he feels about his role and the Torch Relay.
In the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay, the torchbearers will run their slot surrounded by security runners, whose role is to ensure the security of the relay operation as the torch is carried to the next torchbearer. Safeguarding the torchbearers in Tokyo will be the TMPD Riot Police Unit. They are also responsible for providing security at the competition venues and at all Games-related facilities. Kimura wanted to contribute to the Tokyo 2020 Games, so he was transferred from the TMPD headquarters to the No. 4 Riot Police Unit, which carries out the security of VIPs and highly important facilities such as the National Diet Building.
“I’ve always liked watching sport. I volunteered to be transferred to the Riot Police Unit because I wanted to assist people who are working hard to achieve their goals. I also wanted to contribute to the success of a huge and important event like the Olympic Games and make sure people all over the world feel happy.”
Being a security runner requires stamina and teamwork. The same team of police officers will run alongside multiple torchbearers who make up the Torch Relay section. Whoever is going to fill those shoes will have to undergo training to prepare for the task, so each TMPD Riot Police Unit recruited volunteers in December 2019.
“I thought that safeguarding the torch, which is the symbol of the Olympic Games, is an important mission so I signed up immediately.” Kimura was chosen to oversee his team as the leader. The team members, who are of varying ages, know of each other but have never worked together closely. “But as we trained more and more as a team, we got to know each other better and our teamwork grew stronger,” says Kimura.
First and foremost in their responsibilities is make sure the torch and the torchbearers arrive safely at their destination. In order to achieve this, the security runners try to prepare themselves for all kinds of scenarios. They conduct image training to help come up with countermeasures and exchange views with each other.
“We go through various training, and it’s important that we demonstrate our capabilities that we have prepared for. Ultimately, I want to ensure that everyone watching the Torch Relay would have fun. I know that the torchbearers are looking forward to participating too, so we will safeguard their run to make sure they enjoy their once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
Running alongside the torchbearers with his team, displaying outstanding teamwork, Kimura is dedicated to seeing the torch carried to the Olympic Stadium safely.
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