A top official of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee said Monday that the organizers will request that people refrain from watching the Japanese nationwide torch relay from the roadside for some time in response to the outbreak of the new coronavirus.
Talking to reporters in Tokyo, organizing committee CEO Toshiro Muto said the organizers will likely ask fans not to gather along the street in segments scheduled for this month in Fukushima, Tochigi and Gunma prefectures.
The organizing committee will make an announcement once it decides on the details before the domestic leg begins on March 26 in Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan.
"We will make a concrete announcement under our policy of requesting people to refrain (from coming). It will be important to say it in a way that is easy for people to understand," Muto said.
Muto's comments came after the Greek leg of the relay was suspended on Friday because spectators crowded the roadway in the midst of the virus outbreak.
The organizers of both the Greek and Japanese relays have been forced to modify its plans in response to the coronavirus, which causes pneumonia-like symptoms.
The flame was lit on Thursday at a ceremony in Olympia, Greece, held in the presence of a limited number of delegations, officials and journalists.
After the Greek relay was called off on the second day, the flame was brought to Panathenaic Stadium in central Athens ahead of Thursday's handover ceremony, which has been downsized.
The flame will arrive in Japan on Friday before it is put on public display in areas hit hard by the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami in 2011.
The relay's departure ceremony is also expected to be held behind closed doors at the J-Village soccer training center, which served as an emergency response headquarters during the nuclear disaster that happened in 2011.