(ATR) The Tokyo 2020 Torch Relay will not be running through the streets of Osaka prefecture next week.
Tokyo 2020 organizers bowed to the wishes of Osaka prefecture authorities, who requested that the Osaka segment of the torch relay on April 13-14 be held in Expo ’70 Commemorative Park rather than on public roads.
In a statement on Wednesday, Tokyo 2020 said it "will implement all necessary measures to ensure a safe environment for all torchbearers who wish to run there, with no spectators being admitted on either day".
Osaka prefecture declared a medical state of emergency on Wednesday due to rising COVID-19 cases, asking residents to refrain from going out and to avoid any unnecessary travel.
This is the first notable change to the route since the torch relay began two weeks ago in Fukushima prefecture with coronavirus countermeasures in place. About 10,000 runners are expected to participate in the relay, which is scheduled to include all 47 of Japan’s prefectures.
The torch relay schedule is set to return to normal after Osaka, as it travels through Tokushima on April 15-16, Kagawa on April 17-18 and Kochi on April 19-20.
Former Tokyo 2020 Sports Director Battles Illness
Olympic champion and former Tokyo 2020 sports director Koji Murofushi is reportedly undergoing treatment for a rare form of cancer.
Murofushi, 46, was diagnosed with brain lymphoma and has already had surgery and steroid treatment according to the Daily Shincho. The publication adds that he will undergo a stem cell transplant later this month.
Murofushi left his post at Tokyo 2020 in September to become commissioner of the Japan Sports Agency. He released a statement through his current employer.
"Because this report concerns a personal matter, I’d like to refrain from commenting," Murofushi said, as reported by Reuters.
"I’ve made efforts so my work hasn’t been affected up to now, and will work together with everybody concerned to hold the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics successfully."
Murofushi won the gold medal in the hammer throw at Athens 2004 and a bronze in the event at London 2012.
He joined Tokyo 2020 in 2014 before leaving in September. As sports director, he served as a liaison between athletes, international sports federations and the organizing committee. He also helped create the event schedules for both the Olympics and Paralympics.
Written by Gerard Farek
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