Junior high school students from Inazawa, Aichi Prefecture, will take part in the Greek leg of the 2020 Tokyo Games torch relay after the flame is lit in Olympia on March 12 next year, a city official said Thursday.
The city of Inazawa is planning to send students as part of an exchange with Olympia to strengthen relations between the sister cities, according to the official. Students from Olympia is expected to take part in the Japanese leg of the relay on April 6.
Inazawa sent students to participate in the relays of the Nagano Winter Olympics in 1998 and four Summer Games since the Athens Olympics in 2004. At the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, nine students were sent to the torch relay, and the city plans to double that number for next year’s Olympics to 18.
After the flame lighting ceremony is held near the site of ancient Olympia, a Greek runner will begin the relay and hand the torch off to an as-of-yet undecided Japanese runner. The flame will then pass to students from Inazawa, who will carry the torch into the center of Olympia.
Seven days later, the torch will be handed over to the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee at Panathenaic Stadium in Athens and transported to Japan, where it will travel through all 47 prefectures including the disaster-hit areas of the earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011, and the subsequent nuclear disaster.
About 10,000 torchbearers will participate in the 121-day relay in Japan, with the organizers revealing the specific route later this year.
Inazawa, which is also the Greek host town of the Tokyo Games, became sister cities with Olympia in 1987.