The Tokyo metropolitan government said Friday it has received 16,910 applications, or more than 100 times the spots available, to become one of the 165 runners to participate in the Tokyo leg of the 2020 Olympics torch relay.

The applicants will know in December whether they have been chosen through a screening process based on documents they submitted earlier.

"It has become extremely competitive," Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said at a press conference. "We would like to increase the level of expectation for the Olympics and Paralympics."

There will be about 10,000 torchbearers in total running in Japan, of whom 2,500 will be selected by organizing committees in the country's 47 prefectures.

Tokyo is assigned 330 runners, with half chosen from the public. The rest are decided based on recommendations from the metropolitan government's organizing committee.

The torch relay will be held from March 26 to July 24, passing through every prefecture and 857, or almost half, of Japan's municipalities.

Runners will pass by landmarks such as World Heritage sites and areas devastated by recent natural disasters such as the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.