• Kyodo

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Japan’s Blue Impulse aerobatics team will draw the five Olympic rings in the sky with colored smoke at a ceremony in March to mark the arrival of the sacred flame from Greece, a source said Friday.

The 2020 Tokyo Organising Committee has decided that the Air Self-Defense Force flight team will perform when the flame is used to ignite the celebration cauldron at the ASDF’s Matsushima base in Miyagi Prefecture, according to the source.

The Blue Impulse team gave similar performances at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics, in the latter case flying over the stadium, leaving smoke in the five Olympic colors. The flame is due to arrive from Greece on March 20.

At the planned ceremony in Higashimatsushima, which was hit hard by the devastating earthquake and tsunami of March 2011, local elementary school students will welcome the sacred flame lantern.

The ASDF’s aerobatics team has recently refrained from using colored smoke due to concerns that chemicals in the smoke could stain the ground, but the Defense Ministry has improved them so that they will have no impact on the land, according to the source.

In September, the Blue Impulse team drew a cherry blossom in the sky with white smoke to mark the opening of the Rugby World Cup.

The aerobatics performance in Miyagi will be dependent on weather conditions, the source said, as northeastern Japan experiences many windy days in March.

The 121-day Japan leg of the Olympic torch relay will begin in Fukushima Prefecture on March 26 after the torch travels through Miyagi and Iwate prefectures by train for public display.

The three prefectures were most affected by the 2011 disaster and ensuing nuclear crisis.

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