Olympic torch relay through Greece snuffed out over coronavirus fears
Amid mass cancellations of sporting events across the globe, the Greek leg of the Olympic torch relay is the latest to take a hit. The Hellenic Olympic Committee announced the spread of COVID-19 has prompted it, in consultation with the Greek ministry of health, to cancel the Olympic flame’s journey in the country. It will still complete the handover to Tokyo 2020 organizers but with no public in attendance.
“This is even more regrettable after the huge success of the relay during its first two days with big crowds gathering along the route and at the ceremonies,” the HOC said in a statement.
The Olympic torch was lit on Thursday at the Temple of Hera in ancient Olympia, southern Greece. The flame-lighting ceremony went ahead without supporters because of the pandemic.
The torch will still be handed over to Tokyo 2020 organisers as planned but with no supporters in attendance.
Tokyo organisers said they will work with municipalities in Japan and plan to begin the relay there on March 26. The torch was scheduled to travel through Greece and be handed over at a ceremony at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens on March 19.
In a statement, Tokyo 2020 reiterated that it will continue to work with the International Olympic Committee to open the Games as planned on July 24.