The Olympic flame, which was lit on March 12th in Olympia, had already faced a route change before the postponement of the Olympics was announced. The Torch relay in Greece was shortened and the handover ceremony was held in closed session. In Japan, measures were taken to protect the torch-bearers and festivities scheduled to celebrate the arrival of the Flame were cancelled. The principle was to prevent the propagation of coronavirus in Japan and Greece while preserving the Olympic tradition. The Olympic Torch was supposed to first be displayed in the areas most affected by the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake, so as to embody the revitalization effort of the region. The Tohoku area, the Fukushima and Iwate prefecture, all severely hit by the earthquake and tsunami, were to be the welcome point of entry for the Olympic Flame, and the starting legs of the Torch Relay respectively.
The Relay was then supposed to go through to the 47 Japanese prefectures and 859 local municipalities. However, because of the IOC decision to postpone the Olympic Games, the organizing Committee decided on March 25th to cancel the Relay that was due beginning the next day. The Olympic Torch will stay lit in Fukushima until April 30th, allowing the authorities time to think about rescheduling the Relay route according to the new Tokyo Olympics calendar. Already a symbol for a better future in Japan, the “Flame of Recovery” and its motto “Hope Lights Our Way” could become the emblem for worldwide resilience against the Covid-19 epidemic.