On 12 March 2020, the Olympic flame will be lit at the historic site of Ancient Olympia in Greece. After a week-long initial leg of the Torch Relay in Greece, a Torch Handover Ceremony will take place at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens on 19 March 2020.
A special aircraft bearing the name “Tokyo 2020 Go” will transport the Olympic flame to Japan, landing at JASDF Matsushima Air Base in Miyagi Prefecture on 20 March 2020. Upon the flame’s arrival, Tokyo 2020 will host an Olympic Flame Arrival Ceremony to welcome the flame and celebrate the start of the Olympic Torch Relay on 26 March 2020 from the J-Village National Training Centre in Fukushima Prefecture. Local children from Ishinomaki, Higashi-matsushima and Onagawa-cho in Miyagi Prefecture will welcome the symbolic Olympic flame at the Arrival Ceremony.
Two special guests for the Arrival Ceremony
Olympic champions Nomura Tadahiro and Yoshida Saori will bring the Olympic flame from Greece to Japan.
The Olympian from Nara Prefecture is a triple gold medallist in the men’s judo 60kg category, having taken the title at Atlanta 1996, Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004. Nomura became the first judo athlete and the first Asian athlete in any sport to win the Olympic gold medal at three consecutive Games. Since his retirement, Nomura has worked to promote judo both at home and abroad. He was also a member of the selection panel for the Tokyo 2020 Games medal design competition.
“I am very honoured to take on an important role in bringing the flame, which is a symbol of the Olympics, to Japan from Greece,” said Nomura. “The Olympics for me are a special stage. Greece brings back a lot of good memories for me. I would like to fulfil my great responsibility with the pride and joy of delivering the Olympic flame, which will be lit in Ancient Olympia, to Japan with my own hands.”
Born on 5 October 1982 in Mie Prefecture, Yoshida graduated from Hisai High School and Chukyo Women’s University (now Shigakkan University). She started training in wrestling at the age of three at the Ichishi junior wrestling club, which was run by her father, Eikatsu. She won almost every major competition at junior level in the various age categories. In 2002, Yoshida secured her first victory in her debut match. She claimed 13 consecutive world titles between 2002 and 2015 and won three gold medals at the Olympic Games: Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 and London 2012, followed by a silver medal at Rio 2016. In January 2019, she announced her retirement after a career spanning 33 years.
“When I brought back the Olympic flag from Rio de Janeiro as captain of the Japanese Olympic delegation, I was very excited to welcome the Olympics to Tokyo in 2020.
I retired from wrestling afterwards, and now it is such an honour to play this important role in bringing back the Olympic flame from Greece, home of the Olympic Games. I am preparing myself for it,” said Yoshida. “The Olympic flame, a symbol of the Olympics, will be travelling across Japan in the Torch Relay, bringing with it the hopes and dreams not only of Tokyo 2020 Olympians, but of all people. The flame, brought back from Greece, will be carried from Fukushima, where the Olympic Torch Relay starts. I hope to run with the flame someday somewhere, and look forward to seeing the moment the Olympic cauldron is lit in the New National Stadium.”
“Tokyo 2020 Go”, a special aircraft commissioned to transport the Olympic flame
With the support of All Nippon Airways Co. Ltd. (ANA) and Japan Airlines Co. Ltd. (JAL), Tokyo 2020 will transport the flame from Greece to Japan.
A model of the special aircraft that has been commissioned to transport the Tokyo 2020 Olympic flame to Japan will also be unveiled. The artwork on the side of the plane is designed to reflect the Tokyo 2020 Olympic torch concept “Hope Lights Our Way” and to depict the journey of the Olympic Torch Relay. It consists of an Olympic torchbearer pictogram emblazoned on the front of the aircraft, and it runs along the side of the plane via an ochre-coloured emblem to the Olympic Torch Relay emblem on the tail. The flight of this special aircraft will constitute the all-important first stage of the Olympic Torch Relay in Japan, a journey that will be continued by the torchbearers on the ground.
The name of the aircraft, Tokyo 2020 Go, incorporates the Japanese word “go” (“号”), the suffix used for the numbering of trains, buses and aircraft, which also has a similar pronunciation to the English word “Go!”, implying the start of a journey. The overall name is intended to reflect the plane’s mission to deliver the flame to the Games and the sense of anticipation as the Games draw near.