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Tokyo Olympics torch relay includes quake, tsunami-hit areas

June 1, 2019
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Tadahiro Nomura, an ambassador to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and former judo Olympic medalist, wearing the torch runner's uniform, holds a torch during an event to unveil the Olympics torch relay route in Tokyo Saturday, June 1, 2019. The organizing committee said the torch relay next year will pass through major Japanese landmarks, including World Heritage sites and areas devastated by recent natural disasters. (Shinji Kita/Kyodo News via AP)

TOKYO (AP) — The Tokyo Olympics organizing committee said Saturday the torch relay next year would pass through major Japanese landmarks, including World Heritage sites and areas devastated by recent natural disasters.

The torch will travel to 857 municipalities in all of Japan’s 47 prefectures, highlighting symbols of reconstruction from the earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011, that killed nearly 16,000 people, and the subsequent Fukushima nuclear crisis.

About 10,000 torch bearers will participate over the 121-day relay, with the organizers revealing the specific routes later this year.

The torch will pass through municipalities heavily hit by the disaster in northeastern Japan. It will begin on March 26, 2020, at Fukushima Prefecture’s J-Village, a soccer training center that was an operational base for dealing with the nuclear crisis.

The “Miracle Pine” monument, in a park dedicated to a tree that remained standing when all the other 70,000 around it were washed away by the tsunami, is among the various landmarks from the northeastern region. On the first day, the torch will also travel through Okuma, where one part of the crippled Fukushima nuclear complex is located.

The torch will also visit World Heritage sites designated by UNESCO, including Mt. Fuji, and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, dedicated to the victims of the world’s first atomic bombing in 1945.

The flame will make its entrance at Tokyo’s New National Stadium on July 24 during the opening ceremony.

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