Tokyo Olympic Torch Relay sticks to original route for 2021

Organisers announce unchanged 121-day route starting on 25 March from J-Village in Fukushima Prefecture.

By Shintaro Kano

The Olympic Torch Relay around Japan in 2021 will operate on the same route and timetable as the original ones that were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, Tokyo 2020 organisers announced on Monday (28th September).

The relay will kick off on 25 March, 2021, from the J-Village National Training Center in Fukushima Prefecture, and pass through all 47 prefectures in Japan over a span of 121 days.

The torch will reach Tokyo on 9th July in time for the flame to light the Cauldron in the Olympic Stadium at the Opening Ceremony of the Games on 23rd July.

Those previously confirmed as Olympic Torchbearers will be given preference to run in next year's relay, Tokyo 2020 said. Around 10,000 Torchbearers are set to take part.

Next year marks the 10th anniversary of the M9.1 Great East Japan Earthquake that devastated the eastern coastline of the country, claiming almost 16,000 lives and leaving more than 2,500 still missing.

In line with the theme "Hope Lights Our Way", the relay will highlight the recovery in the hardest-hit disaster areas such as Fukushima.

As part of the simplification of the Games, following the one year delay to the Olympics due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the Grand Start of the relay and other ceremonies will be scaled back, as will the number of operational staff.

COVID-19 countermeasures for the relay will be announced at a later date, after full consultation with infectious experts and public health authorities.

Tokyo 2020 also announced that the Paralympic Torch Relay will be held from 17-24 August in Saitama, Chiba, Shizuoka. A Flame lighting festival will be held in the 43 other prefectures during the five days before.