Olympic torch will not be held by runners in Japan, flame will be carried in lantern

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Breaking with decades of tradition, authorities in Japan revealed on Monday that the Olympic torch will not be carried by relay runners, but in a lantern with a more conservative display case.

The unveiling will take place at an event on Thursday in Japan’s Fukushima prefecture, a government official is reported as saying.

Authorities in Fukushima have opted to forego the usual ceremony – complete with a torch, torchbearers and the general public – in light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic which has swept across the world and thrown the games into uncertainty.

The Olympic flame arrived in Japan on March 12, having flown from Greece. Olympic organizers will replace the traditional torch relay with ‘torch visits’, which they hope will be met by respectful onlookers who either maintain appropriate social distances or simply watch from the comfort of their homes.

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For the time being at least, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach has ruled out cancelling the games, which have been mired in difficulties and speculation about potential postponement as the world fights the spread of the coronavirus. 

Meanwhile, the Australian and Canadian Olympic committees have vowed to not send any teams if the games go ahead as planned in July. 

As of Tuesday, Japan had 1,128 confirmed cases of coronavirus infection resulting in 42 deaths.

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