Tokyo 2020 Torch Relay

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay Concept

The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Tokyo 2020) announced that the concept for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay across Japan will be "Hope Lights Our Way", uniting the Japanese people around messages of supporting, accepting and encouraging one another.

The Olympic flame is often associated with a message of peace and hope, as it is carried around the host nation, and as such has become one of the most powerful symbols of the Olympic Movement. In 2020, the Olympic flame will not only symbolise the sunrise of a new era spreading the hope that will light our way, but will also serve to spread the joy and passion of the Japanese around the Olympic movement as the Games approach.

Tokyo 2020 also announced that upon its arrival in Japan, the Olympic flame will initially be put on display at various locations in the Tohoku region, to help underscore this message of hope in the areas affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Only after this will the actual Olympic Torch Relay begin, taking in all 47 prefectures of Japan.

The Olympic Torch Relay will spend:

  • three days in each of the three prefectures most affected by the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami
    (Fukushima, Iwate and Miyagi)
  • three days in each of the four prefectures hosting multiple competitions during the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 (Chiba, Kanagawa, Saitama and Shizuoka)
  • 15 days in the Tokyo Metropolitan area
  • two days in each of the other 39 prefectures of Japan

Tokyo 2020 has formulated various criteria that will govern the starting point and precise route of the Olympic Torch Relay, which are themselves yet to be announced. The route will allow for as many people as possible to view the Olympic Torch Relay and will include regional and national landmarks. It will additionally help showcase the recovery of Japan's disaster-affected areas and the indomitable spirit of the people living there.

The flame will be carried along its route to Tokyo by many thousands of torch-bearers, with guidelines for the selection of these to be finalised at a future date.

The Olympic Torch Relay

The Olympic Torch Relay begins with the kindling of the Olympic flame by the rays of the sun in Olympia, Greece, and is followed by a relay around Greece. The Olympic flame is then transported to the host country where a Torch Relay is conducted until the Opening Ceremony of the Games.

The Olympic flame is a globally-recognised symbol of the Olympics, and the parading of the flame represents the Olympic ideals of peace, unity and friendship. Through the Torch Relay the Olympic values are disseminated across the entire host country, and the relay serves to raise interest in and expectations for the Games.

Actually, there was no Olympic flame at the modern Olympics until the Amsterdam 1928 Games, when a cauldron was erected outside the main stadium. A proposal was made to continue this practice, which has continued until the present day.

The lighting of the Olympic flame is held several months before the beginning of the Olympics at the sacred site of ancient Olympia, near the temple of Hera. Hundreds of people then take their turn to carry the torch a short distance until it reaches the main site of the Games on the day of the Opening Ceremony. The final runners carry the torch into the stadium and the Olympic cauldron is then lit. The cauldron stays alight until the conclusion of the Games.

The Paralympic Torch Relay

Flame-lighting festivals are held in Stoke Mandeville in the UK – the birthplace of the Paralympics – and at several locations across the host country. The flames from each of these locations are then brought together at the host city where the Paralympic Torch is lit, and the Paralympic Torch Relay begins.

The very first Paralympic Torch Relay was held in Seoul for the 1988 Paralympic Games. The total distance of the relay route was 105km, with some 282 runners carrying the Paralympic Torch.

The Paralympic Torch Relay is an event that welcomes everyone, with messages of support coming from municipal governments, organisations, groups and individuals. The lighting events held by municipal governments are held on the supposition that the collective energy of the local residents lights the flame.

One major aim of the events is to maintain the momentum and excitement of the Olympic Games during the transition period to the Paralympic Games, and to communicate the values and spirit of the Paralympics.