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Olympic flame display ends after Japanese PM declares emergency

Tokyo, April 7 (IANS) The Olympic flame display in northeastern Fukushima will end after only five days as Japan prepares for a state of emergency.

The NHK reported that the Tokyo Olympic organisers decided to stop the flame display after Prime Minister Abe Shinzo declared a state of emergency for Tokyo and six other prefectures on Tuesday, reports Xinhua news agency.

The order is expected to be in place for about a month.

The flame, which was lit in Greece on March 12, arrived in Japan on March 20 for a torch relay originally scheduled to kick off on March 26 at the J-Village National football center in Fukushima. But the relay was cancelled after the postponement of the Olympic Games.

The flame was then put on a month-long display at J-Village on April 2. The organisers have decided to display the flame across the country.

The Olympic flame was handed over to officials in the Fukushima prefecture in a low-key ceremony on Wednesday.

The 121-day torch relay was due to start on March 26 from the J-Village due to its symbolism as being the focal point of Japan’s reconstruction following 2011 earthquake and tsunami. The facility, which is now reinstated as a training centre for young football players, was used as a base to launch recovery efforts for the coastline.

The Olympics were initially scheduled to start on July 24 and go on till August 9. In recent months, the International Olympic Council (IOC) increasingly came under pressure for maintaining its stance that the Olympics will not be postponed despite the increasing restrictions on movement of people across the world due to the coronavirus pandemic. Finally, on March 24, the IOC and the Tokyo 2020 organising committee announced that the Games will be postponed to a date in 2021. A week after that, it was announced that the new dates for the Games is July 23 to August 8, 2021.

–IANS

dm/bbh

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