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Olympic Torch Relay reaches Tokyo 2020 marathon city Sapporo but event is much scaled-down

Student Somu Yukawa was the only runner as the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch reached Sapporo today ©Tokyo 2020

The Tokyo 2020 Flame has reached the Olympic marathon venue of Sapporo, but only a single runner carried the Torch before lighting the celebratory cauldron.

Student Somu Yukawa stepped onto the stage which had been set up at Sapporo Kita3-Jo Plaza “Akapla” in the shadow of Sapporo City Hall.

The Hokkaido Prefecture flag flew in the background.

A futsal player with the Espolada Hokkaido club, Yukawa is also one of the leaders of the local boy’s firefighting club and was able to put his training to use during the 2018 earthquake.

His Torch was ignited from a safety lantern on stage by Flame attendants.

He then lit the cauldron after a very short low-key ceremony in which names of others who were originally to have carried the Torch were recited.

Yesterday, there had been a similar ceremony at the Upopoy Park, close to the National Ainu Museum.

Hibiki Yamamichi, who works for the Ainu Cultural Foundation, had carried the Olympic Torch in Hokkaido Prefecture yesterday ©Tokyo 2020

Hibiki Yamamichi, who works for the Ainu Cultural Foundation, had carried the Olympic Torch in Hokkaido Prefecture yesterday ©Tokyo 2020

There the cauldron was lit by Hibiki Yamamichi, who works for the Ainu Cultural Foundation, an organisation promoting the Ainu indigenous people in Hokkaido.

The Torch was originally to have visited some nine municipalities on each day of its two-day journey around the Prefecture, but earlier this month organisers confirmed that the local “task force” had “requested Tokyo 2020 to change the format of the Torch Relay”.

Hokkaido is one of 10 Prefectures in Japan currently under a state of emergency.

Kyodo News has reported that the medical authorities in the prefecture “remained strained by COVID-19 patients”.

Sapporo is due to stage the first of the Olympic walks on August 5 and competition in the city concludes with the men’s marathon on August 8.

The Flame now spends a day in transit before the Relay is due to resume in Iwate, the 39th of the 47 Prefectures on the itinerary.

The Flame is due to reach its final destination at the National Stadium on July 23, the day the Olympic Games are scheduled to open.

 

By Philip Barker|IOC

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