Tokyo Welcomes Olympic Flame

TOKYO – The Olympic flame has arrived in Japan’s capital on Friday, a day after organizers decided to stage the Games without spectators at all venues in the city due to ongoing COVID-19 surge.

The flame that has traversed 46 of the country’s 47 prefectures was welcomed at a low-key ceremony held at the Komazawa Olympic Park Stadium, a venue built for the Tokyo 1964 Olympics.

Koike (L) holds the Olympic flame in a lantern with Taguchi while Matsuoka applauds during a simple ceremony for the Tokyo leg of the Olympic Torch Relay on July 9. (Photo by Din Eugenio)

“I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to all those who have helped to make the torch relay a successful one,” Koike said in a speech.

“We have been able to overcome these difficult conditions with the help of the people all over Japan, and with a lot of ingenuity,” she went on.

L-R: Matsuoka, Koike and Taguchi (Photo by Din Eugenio)

The lantern containing the Olympic flame was carried to the podium by Aki Taguchi, a three-time Paralympic shooter and the official ambassador of the Tokyo 2020 Torch Relay. She then handed it to Koike.

Alongside her was Shuzo Matsuoka, a former professional tennis player and Tokyo’s first torchbearer.

Matsuoka carries the lantern containing the Olympic flame (Photo by Din Eugenio)

Traveling under the banner, “Hope Lights Our Way”, the flame will embark on a two-week tour around the metropolis before it will be used to light the Olympic Cauldron during the Opening Ceremony at Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium. - Florenda Corpuz