While the world leaders are advising to practice social distancing to stem the spread of deadly coronavirus, thousands of people defied the fears of COVID-19 and assembled in queues for hours to see the Tokyo Olympic flame in northern Japan. In contrast to the official line from the Japanese government and the IOC, two sources familiar with the talks have told an international news agency that options of postponing the games which are scheduled to begin on April 24 are now being drawn up. The unprecedented outbreak of deadly coronavirus has disrupted thousands of lives around the world and has also resulted in either cancellation or delay of numerous sports events.
However, Japan has been resisting all requests and has said that the games will proceed as planned. The top government spokesperson reportedly said that Tokyo was not preparing for postponement of the event. After the lighting ceremony, the flame had arrived in Japan on March 20 and on March 21, at least 50,000 people queued to watch its display at Sendai station in Miyagi. According to international media reports, some had to stay in the 500-metre line for several hours.
Hope has begun lighting our way in Japan. 🔥 #OlympicTorchRelay— #Tokyo2020 (@Tokyo2020) March 20, 2020
The flame will now be exhibited in the Tohoku Region, one of the areas most affected by the 2011 earthquake, sharing its message of recovery and the relay concept of #HopeLightsOurWay for #Tokyo2020. pic.twitter.com/T7pvgeTJCn
Meanwhile, the United States Track and Field federation has also called for the postponing of the event. In a letter to the Olympic Committee, the USATF has acknowledged that the “global pandemic has grown” and keeping in mind the health and safety of their coaches, players, athletes and other staff, the federation made the decision.
Just days after the US President Donald Trump had also suggested that Japan should consider postponing the event in the wake of the pandemic, USATF CEO, Max Siegel urged the CEO of the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee, Sarah Hirshland to delay the sports event which is scheduled to start on April 24. This comes after Brazil’s Olympic Committee has also called for the Tokyo Olympic Games to postponed to next year.