Tokyo 2020 Torch Relay

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The Torch Relay begins with the kindling of the flame by the rays of the sun in Olympia, Greece, and is followed by a relay around Greece. The flame is then transported to the host country where a Torch Relay is conducted until the Opening Ceremony of the Games.

The flame is a globally-recognized symbol of the, and the parading of the flame represents the ideals of peace, unity and friendship. Through the Torch Relay the values are disseminated across the entire host country, and the relay serves to raise interest in and expectations for the Games.

Actually, there was no flame at the modern event until the Amsterdam 1928 Games, when a cauldron was erected outside the main stadium. A proposal was made to continue this practice, which has continued until the present day.

The lighting of the flame is held several months before the beginning of the games at the sacred site of ancient Olympia, near the temple of Hera. Hundreds of people then take their turn to carry the torch a short distance until it reaches the main site of the Games on the day of the Opening Ceremony. The final runners carry the torch into the stadium and the cauldron is then lit. The cauldron stays alight until the conclusion of the Games.

The flame is often associated with a message of peace and hope, as it is carried around the host nation, and as such has become one of the most powerful symbols of the Movement. In 2020, the flame will not only symbolize the sunrise of a new era spreading the hope that will light our way, but will also serve to spread the joy and passion of the Japanese around the movement as the Games approach.

Upon its arrival in Japan, the flame will initially be put on display at various locations in the Tohoku region, to help underscore this message of hope in the areas affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

“Hope Lights Our Way” from Fukushima for 121 Days Journey
The Relay will travel to all 47 prefectures in Japan, showcasing the varied cultural and scenic attractions of each region.

The Relay will commence on 26 March 2020 in Fukushima Prefecture, and start its journey southwards. The torch is likely to traverse the inland prefectures of central Japan against the backdrop of Japan's famous cherry blossoms, which typically bloom there in early April.

The Relay will then proceed southwest until it reaches the islands of Okinawa, the southernmost prefecture of Japan, in early May. It will make its way back up to the north of the country, passing through Kyoto in late May, all the way up to Hokkaido, where it will arrive in mid-June. The Relay will then turn southwards again and complete its long journey in Tokyo after spending three days in each of the four prefectures outside of the capital that are hosting events during the Games Tokyo 2020.

The torch will traverse Japan for a total of 121 days. In addition to building excitement across the country ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Games and promoting the values, the Torch Relay is aimed at showcasing solidarity with the regions still recovering from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami under its slogan “Hope Lights Our Way.”

The precise route of the Relay will be firmed up during the coming months and announced in 2019, following approval. The date and the place of the Flame's arrival from Greece will also be announced on a later date.

Schedule of the Tokyo 2020 Torch Relay
12 March Lighting Ceremony in Olympia, Greece
12-19 March Greek leg of the Tokyo 2020 Torch Relay
19 March  Handover Ceremony in Athens, Greece
20 March Flame arrives at Matsushima Airfield, Miyagi, Japan
20-21 March Flame on display in Miyagi PrefectureFlame on display in Miyagi Prefecture
22-23 March Flame on display in Iwate Prefecture
24-25 March Flame on display in Fukushima Prefecture
26 March-24 July Japanese leg of the Tokyo 2020 Torch Relay starts from Fukushima, taking in all 47 prefectures of Japan

The Torch will be a varying number of days in each prefecture

  • Three days in each of the three prefectures most affected by the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami (Fukushima, Iwate and Miyagi)
  • Three days in each of the four prefectures hosting multiple competitions during the Games Tokyo 2020 (Chiba, Kanagawa, Saitama and Shizuoka)
  • 15 days in the Tokyo Metropolitan area
  • Two days in each of the other 39 prefectures of Japan

The flame will be carried along its route to Tokyo by many thousands of torch-bearers, with guidelines for the selection of these to be finalized at a future date. 

Tokyo 2020 has formulated various criteria that will govern the starting point and precise route of the Torch Relay, which are themselves yet to be announced. The route will allow for as many people as possible to view the Torch Relay and will include regional and national landmarks. It will additionally help showcase the recovery of Japan's disaster-affected areas and the indomitable spirit of the people living there.

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