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Countdown begins: Paralympic Flame Ceremonies Begin In Japan

paralympic games

After the successful completion of the Tokyo Olympics, Japan held its first Paralympic flame-lighting ceremonies on Thursday. The countdown for the much-awaited Paralympics begins as the games will kick start on August 24. 

Furthermore, the official decision on spectators will be delivered early next level, as the country battles a spike in virus cases. Just like the Olympics Covid-19 routine checkup in which athletes faced restrictions on movement and were tested daily. The Paralympics are expected to take place under similar conditions when they begin on August 24, Japanese media said, with an official decision on spectators expected early next week. Around 4,000 Paralympians and 12,000 officials, staff and media from around the world will be in Japan for the Games.

However, Japan has a comparatively small Covid-19 outbreak overall, but the latest Delta variant wave is pushing the caseloads, with Tokyo and five other regions currently under a virus state of emergency. The state of emergency is to continue until the end of August. Likewise, “quasi-emergency” measures are in order in other regions where cases are rising.

Amidst the ongoing pandemic, instead of a traditional relay on public roads, “torch-kiss” Paralympic flame-lighting events will take place in towns and cities across Japan over the next week, wherein the flame will be transferred from torch to torch. 

“The flames will be brought to Tokyo and combined, but plans to have spectators line the route of a relay in the capital have been scrapped,” a city government official told AFP. 

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government official Koichi Osakabe also mentioned plans of holding the Paralympic torch relay in Tokyo with some 700 torchbearers.

“But because of the state of emergency, we decided not to do the relay on public roads.”

paralympics 2021

However, Japan’s northern Iwate region remote city of Tono decided to open its Paralympic flame ceremony to the public and was expecting a small crowd of around 50 people including officials.

“We wanted to have a diverse group of people, young and old, non-Japanese nationals and those with disabilities, to take part in the event,” the city official in charge of the ceremony told AFP.

Tokyo Olympics

“We did not advertise the ceremony. We will take thorough anti-infection measures, of course.”

During the Tokyo Olympics, organisers reported 511 positive cases, mostly among residents, with one so-called “cluster”, in the Greek artistic swimming team. However, the organisers have dismissed the rising virus cases in Tokyo, although some experts say that holding the Games undermined the government’s messaging on virus risks.

Currently, 35 per cent of Japan’s population are fully vaccinated, which includes more than 80 per cent of the over 65s.

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