(ATR) The Olympic flame lit in Greece for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics is currently in hiding somewhere in Japan. But keepers of the flame say they are working on plans to return this symbol of the Games back into public view – perhaps in a way never considered before.
Last seen publicly April 8, the flame is now being kept in an undisclosed "secure location" following postponement of the Tokyo Olympics until 2021. The relay is the first high profile prelude to the Games to slide off the table.
For Tokyo 2020, what to do with the flame for the next year is one of the myriad questions Tokyo 2020 organizers are dealing with in the wake of postponing the Games.
There were signs the torch relay was in trouble beginning with the March 18 ceremony to light the flame in Olympia, Greece.
Anti-corona virus measures limited the ceremony to about 100 instead of the thousands usually on hand for this quadrennial event. As the weeklong relay across Greece got underway the next day, large crowds along the route near Sparta led the government to decree an immediate halt. The flame reemerged a week later in an austere handover ceremony at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens.
Then it was off to Japan in a chartered flight, landing near Fukushima, the earthquake-ravaged city where the Japan leg of the torch relay was to begin March 26.
A mere two days before the first of 10,000 runners were to launch thethree month relay, the IOC, Tokyo 2020 and government leaders called for a postponement of the Games until 2021.
Abandoned in Fukushima with limited viewing permitted, the flame was taken away April 8 with no word on where it would go and what would happen to it over the course of the next year.
As far as the flame goes, presumably it remains aglow in the three safety lanterns that accompanied it from Athens to Japan.
"Tokyo 2020 is ensuring the Flame that was lit in Greece remains alight here in Japan. We are unable to disclose the precise details of how the flame is being kept alight," says a statement to Around the Rings from Tokyo 2020.
Whether that means a 24/7 watch over the flame until the relaunch of the relay next year, is not exactly clear. While Tokyo 2020 says it is responsible for the custody of the flame, perhaps it resides behind the security of a Japanese Defense Forces facility .
However, organizers are apparently keen not to hide their light under a bushel, as the old expression goes.
Asked whether the flame would be put on display via an online presence, Tokyo 2020 says that’s under consideration.
"Thank you for your valuable suggestion," says the statement.
"Following the postponement of the Torch Relay for the first time in the history of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, we are discussing a number of options—including your proposal—with the International Olympic Committee and other related organizations," says Tokyo 2020.
Details to follow.
Reported byEd Hula. For general comments or questions,click here.