National

Rehearsal for Olympic torch relay held in western Tokyo

Kyodo

With just over a month until the Olympic flame arrives, organizers of the Tokyo Games held a dress rehearsal Saturday for the Japan leg of the torch relay.

Four runners carried unlit Olympic torches for around 200 meters each in Hamura, western Tokyo, on Saturday morning as the organizers went over preparations for the start of the domestic portion of the relay on March 26.

With traffic restrictions in place, torchbearers wearing the official white uniforms ran on a road in front of spectators that included residents and government officials.

Security personnel and police stood along the route, while vehicles belonging to sponsors and the organizing committee also traveled along the course.

Actress Satomi Ishihara, who was selected to take part in the relay, ran the third segment of the dress rehearsal.

“I was very nervous before running. But it went by so fast,” Ishihara, 33, said.

“I’m really glad I was able to rehearse ahead of the start of the torch relay because I ended up running too fast today.”

With events running some 10 minutes behind schedule, a departing ceremony was held ahead of the first runner. Participants simulated the lighting of a torch on a small outdoor stage, while spectators took photos and video with their smartphones as the torchbearer set off.

“There was a lively parade so it was even fun waiting for the relay to start. I’m really looking forward to the Tokyo Olympics,” said Manami Nishimaki, a local elementary school student who watched the rehearsal with a friend.

The 71-cm-long torch, which draws on the imagery of Japan’s iconic cherry blossoms, was also set to be carried around in the nearby cities of Kokubunji and Hachioji later in the day.

A celebration was due to be rehearsed when the torch arrives at its destination in Hachioji.

The Olympic flame will be lit in Greece on March 12 and will arrive in Japan following the Greek leg of the relay.

The domestic segment of the relay will commence in Fukushima Prefecture. About 10,000 torchbearers will wind their way through all 47 prefectures before it makes its entrance during the opening ceremony at the National Stadium on July 24.

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