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Olympic Flame Arrives In Japan With Possibility Of Postponing Games Growing

The Olympic flame arrived in Japan from Greece as the opening of the Tokyo Games is scheduled to start in just four months. However, there is doubt the Games will even take place with more voices calling for the event to be postponed or canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The flame arrived on Friday at Matsushima Air Base in northern Japan. The flame came aboard a white aircraft painted with the inscription “Tokyo 2020 Olympics Torch Relay.” On the back of the aircraft, the inscription read, “Hope Lights Our Way,” on the tail section. It was greeted by a few dignitaries and saluted by a flyover from an aerial acrobatic team. The flame was used to ignite a cauldron. It will be on display in three northern prefectures before the official relay on March 26 from the Fukushima prefecture.

Getting the flame to Japan represents a small victory for the International Olympic Committee and local organizers, who hope that the Olympics will open as scheduled on July 24 and be followed by the Paralympics on Aug. 25. However, there is still doubt that the Olympics will start on time if happen at all.

Taro Aso, the Japanese finance minister and former prime minister, characterized the Tokyo Games as the “cursed Olympics” when speaking on Wednesday in a parliamentary committee. Aso was born in 1940, the year Tokyo was to hold its first Olympics, which were called off because of World War II. “This isn’t a phrase that the press could like to hear, but it’s true,” said Aso, who was a member of Japan’s shooting team at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. Aso pointed out that even as the situation in Japan and Asia improves, it is getting worse globally.

“We certainly hope to have a situation where everyone can at least come to Japan feeling safe and happy.” Aso said. “But the question is how we do that. It is something that Japan alone cannot achieve, and I don’t have an answer to this.”

As for the relay of the torch, the Tokyo organizers have stripped most of the festivities from the relay, and have asked roadside crowds to be “restrained” and keep their distance from others. If that does not happen, organizers say they could stop the relay, or delay it.  As of now, the Tokyo organizers are ready for the games to start as planned. The flame is scheduled be lit at the Olympic Stadium In Tokyo on July 24.

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