The Olympic flame has arrived in Japan to a drastically scaled-down welcoming ceremony Friday, as doubts continue to hang over whether the Tokyo Games will go ahead on schedule with the coronavirus pandemic causing chaos around the world.
Reflecting the uncertainty caused by COVID-19, the flame’s arrival at Matsushima Air Base in Japan’s north was a muted affair after organisers were forced to cancel plans to invite 200 schoolchildren.
As the flame, enclosed in a special lantern, landed on a charter flight, a Japanese Olympic Committee member broke ranks to call for a postponement and Olympics chief Thomas Bach admitted “different scenarios” were under consideration.
“Of course we are considering different scenarios, but we are contrary to many other sports organisations or professional leagues in that we are four-and-a-half months away from the Games,” Bach, the International Olympic Committee president, told the New York Times.
“For us, (postponement) would not be responsible now and it would be premature to start speculation or make a decision at a time when we do not have any recommendation from the task force,” he added.