Olympic flame carried through Tokyo on way to Athens

The Olympic flame was carried through Tokyo on Sunday in a 53-km relay as part of a journey through five continents.

Beginning in the Daiba waterfront area on Tokyo Bay in the morning, the torch arrived at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building in Shinjuku Ward a little before 6:30 p.m.

Former professional baseball player Kazushige Nagashima was the torch bearer, while teenage table tennis player Ai Fukuhara, who will represent Japan at the Athens Olympics this summer, was the last.

“I didn’t tell my father that I was running today because if I did, he would be jealous,” Nagashima said after completing his share of about 350 meters in the rain.

His father, Shigeo Nagashima, the manager of the national baseball team that will compete in Athens, was originally selected to run in the relay but is now undergoing rehabilitation from a stroke suffered in April.

The 136 runners included speed skater Hiroyasu Shimizu, swimmer Kyoko Iwasaki and judoka Toshihiko Koga, all Olympic gold medalists, as well as about 70 people chosen from the public.

The torch, which was set alight in ancient Olympia on March 25 and left Athens on Wednesday, will make its way through all five continents for the first time in Olympic history, totaling 33 cities in 26 countries during a 65-day journey.

It arrived in Japan from Australia, and will be passed from Tokyo to Seoul on Monday.