Tokyo Olympics 2020: Is the torch being carried this year?

A runner lights the Olympic torch

The Olympic torch is an integral part of the games (Picture: AP)

The Tokyo Olympics is finally set to go ahead this summer, after falling victim to the Covid pandemic in 2020 like so many events before it.

Despite concerns over the number of cases in the country, the Japanese capital is gearing up to play host to the event, from July 23, with will representatives from 205 nations competing for the medals in sports including swimming, athletics, gymnastics and tennis.

Of course one of the highlights of the Olympics is the procession of the torch relay – which begins before the event itself, and forms an integral part of the opening ceremony.

But is the torch relay taking place this year – and where has it been so far?

Will the Olympic Torch be carried this year?

The Olympic Torch began its journey at the end of March in Fukushima, and will travel for 121 days through Japan to Tokyo for the opening ceremony.

The pink-gold design is reportedly inspired by the colour of Japanese cherry blossom, and around 30% of it is made from aluminium recycled from emergency shelters used in the 2011 earthquakes.

The torch schedule is unchanged from the one planned in 2020, albeit with stricter social distancing guidelines in place.

File photo dated 17/05/12 of the Princess Royal carrying the torch during the official handover ceremony of the Olympic Flame at the Panathenaic Stadium, home of the 1896 Athens Games. Anne celebrates her 70th birthday on Saturday. PA Photo. Issue date: Wednesday August 12, 2020. Anne is famed for her hardwork and no-nonsense approach to life and like the rest of the nation has been coping with life under lockdown. See PA story ROYAL Anne. Photo credit should read: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

The torch has been carried by some high-profile figures over the years including Princess Anne for London 2012 (Picture: PA)

The flame was ‘safeguarded’ at the Olympic Museum in Tokyo throughout the year, ready for its journey in 2021.

Where is the Olympic Torch now?

As of the start of July, the torch is travelling through Chiba, a prefecture of Japan which is north of Tokyo.

It is due to begin its Tokyo leg on July 9.

What are the origins of the Olympic Torch?

The Olympic torch derived from Ancient Greece – when a sacred fire was kept burning during the ancient Olympics on the altar of the sanctuary of Hestia.

Fire had divine connotations in Ancient Greek mythology – as it was thought to have been stolen from the Gods by Prometheus – and sacred fires were present at many ancient sanctuaries in Greece, including Olympia.

Zeus was honoured at the Olympic Games every four years – and these days the modern Olympic flame is ignited at the site of the temple where Hera stood.

The Olympic flame was first used in the modern games in 1928 when they were held in Amsterdam.

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