GENEVA - Greek Olympic shooting champion Anna Korakaki has been selected to start the torch relay for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the first time in games history a woman is serving as the first torchbearer.
Greece's Olympic Committee said Thursday it picked Korakaki, who took gold in the women's 25-meter pistol event at the Rio de Janeiro Games in 2016, to receive the Olympic flame from an actress playing the role of a high priestess in a flame-lighting ceremony to be held on March 12 at Ancient Olympia.
After Korakaki runs the first part of the relay, she will pass the torch to Mizuki Noguchi, the winner of the women's marathon in the 2004 Athens Olympics. Noguchi will be the first Japanese person to carry the 2020 Olympic flame when she collects it in Olympia, western Greece.
Judoka Tadahiro Nomura and wrestler Saori Yoshida, who have both won three Olympic gold medals for Japan, will also carry the torch in Greece.
Following the eight-day Greek leg, the flame will be handed over to Tokyo organizing committee officials during a ceremony at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens. The last torchbearer on the Greek leg will also be a woman -- Greece's Katerina Stefanidi, who won the pole vault gold in Rio.
The Olympic flame will then be transported by a special aircraft from Greece to Japan.
The torch will arrive in Japan on March 20 and its journey around the country will begin from the northeastern Tohoku region, which was widely affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami which killed nearly 16,000 people.
Both local organizers and the International Olympic Committee want to use the upcoming Summer Games to aid the region's recovery, with Japanese authorities dubbing the games the "Reconstruction Olympics."
The flame will visit all 47 prefectures in Japan over its 121-day journey.
The torch relay formally ends with the final runners carrying the flame into the stadium and lighting the main cauldron at the opening ceremony, to be held at Tokyo's rebuilt National Stadium on July 24.