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Olympic torch relay detour; diving test event opens in Tokyo

TOKYO (AP) – The Tokyo Olympic torch relay will take another detour this weekend when it enters the southern island of Okinawa. A leg of the relay on Okinawa’s resort island of Miyakojima set for Sunday has been canceled, with cases surging in Japan. Other legs on Okinawa will take place.

A 17-day state of emergency took effect on April 25 in some areas in Japan, which has shut down department stores and bars in Tokyo and the country’s second-largest metropolis of Osaka.

“We don’t want people from outside the island coming in. Human life is at stake,” Hayako Shimizu, a teacher in Miyakojima, told the Associated Press.

The relay, which will involve 10,000 runners from every corner of Japan, started six weeks ago and has been mostly on schedule despite major rerouting in Osaka and Matsuyama City near Ehime prefecture.

The relay comprises a convoy of about a dozen vehicles with sponsors’ names festooned on them: Coca-Cola, Toyota Motor Corp., and Nippon Life Insurance Co. The torch bearer follows, each running for a couple of minutes, before giving the flame to the next runner who awaits holding another torch.

The torch relay – like planning for the postponed Olympics that are to open on July 23 – is filled with uncertainty, constant changes, and questions about why it is taking place – and how it will take place.


A six-day, on-and-off diving event opened Saturday in Tokyo with 225 athletes from 46 countries – but no fans. It was not immediately apparent where the athletes stayed or under what quarantine conditions they entered Japan. It’s also not clear how many staff members accompanied the divers.

Tokyo organizers said it “understands that the athletes are entering Japan based on the guidelines provided by JASF (Japanese swimming federation) and approved by FINA.”

It referred further inquiries to FINA and local swim officials.

The world governing body of swimming, FINA, listed one of the divers as former Olympic bronze medalist Tom Daley of Britain. But other divers were from various countries, including Mexico, Germany, Canada, Romania, Colombia, Japan, Malaysia, Ukraine, and Russia.

The diving event is one of several months of tests – all without fans. Organizers say they will decide in June how many fans – if any – will be allowed for the Olympics. Fans from abroad have already been banned.

In a briefing on Friday, Hidemasa Nakamura, the delivery official of the Tokyo Olympics, said the focus was on “how safely we can have the games” and not on whether they should take place in the middle of a pandemic.

Others are unsure about allowing 15,000 Olympic and Paralympic athletes into Japan.

One is Canadian Hayley Wickenheiser, a four-time Olympic gold medalist in ice hockey who just completed medical school. Wickenheiser is also a member of the IOC Athletes’ Commission and was one of the first a year ago to say the Olympics should be postponed.

“I would love to see the games happen; it would be a great message of hope for the world. But I think we always have to remember what we’re in the middle of right now,” Wickenheiser said in an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Wickenheiser hinted she was probably a “black sheep” in Olympic circles but added: “I don’t care.”

“I think the IOC wants to go ahead with the games no matter what,” Wickenheiser said. “Part of me wants to trust that that plan is good. But part of me has also seen what’s happened since the pandemic’s start, and I question some of the motives. There’s money; there’s power, there’s politics… . and a lot of egos involved.”

Dr. Shigeru Omi, who heads the Japanese government panel on the coronavirus response, warned a parliamentary committee on Wednesday that the virus is spreading and putting hospitals under stress.

Olympic organizers say they will need about 10,000 medical professionals during the Olympics, and recently officials requested an additional 500 nurses.

“The infections are definitely spreading, including in developing countries, and so it is important to understand this situation and know there are risks thoroughly,” he said.

“It is time the (Olympic) organizers and others involved to be responsible and seriously start thinking about how infections are spreading, and the medical system is getting stretched thin, and then to inform the public.”

Molly Aronson

I'm an award-winning blogger who enjoys all things creative but is especially passionate about lifestyle design. I blog over at mehlogy.com I love that I get to share my passion for healthy living, fashion, fitness, and travel with readers from all over the world.

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