Tokyo 2020 unveils details of Greece Torch Relay events

A high priestess passes the Olympic flame at the Temple of Hera during a lighting ceremony in ancient Olympia, Greece.
A high priestess passes the Olympic flame at the Temple of Hera during a lighting ceremony in ancient Olympia, Greece.

The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Tokyo 2020) today unveiled details of the Torch Relay and Olympic Flame Lighting and Handover Ceremony. Both events, organised by the Hellenic Olympic Committee, will take place in Greece prior to the flame’s journey to Japan.

The Flame Lighting Ceremony will take place in Ancient Olympia, home of the ancient Games in Greece, on 12 March 2020. At the Temple of Hera, a modern High Priestess will ignite the Olympic flame in the traditional way by using the rays of the sun and a parabolic mirror.

Flame Lighting Ceremony Agenda

  • Remarks by representatives from the IOC, HOC and Tokyo 2020
  • Igniting of the Olympic flame
  • Igniting of the first torchbearer’s torch using the Olympic Flame
  • Commencement of the Greece leg of the torch relay

Greek Olympic Torch Relay and Torchbearers

The Greek leg of the Torch Relay will run for eight days across Greece from 12 to 19 March 2020, with the torchbearers including Japanese athletes Mizuki Noguchi, Tadahiro Nomura and Saori Yoshida. The flame will then make its way to the host country of Japan.

Mizuki Noguchi

An Olympian from Mie Prefecture, Noguchi, the “Queen of the Half-Marathon” switched to marathon and won the 2002 Nagoya International Women’s Marathon in her first race. Winning a gold medal in the women’s marathon in Athens 2004, she then set the Asian and Japanese women’s record at the 2005 Berlin Marathon. Since her retirement in 2016, she has been helping to train a Japanese corporate track & field team as an adviser, and also works as a marathon commentator.

Noguchi said, “I am very grateful to be a torchbearer in Greece, which is a special place to me. I am also happy and thankful for this opportunity given to me. It will have been 16 years since I first visited Greece for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games. Appreciating the value of the Olympic Torch Relay, I will pass on the flame with my great memory from Athens 2004 and my hopes for the coming Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.”

Noguchi Mizuki
Noguchi Mizuki
©Iwatani corporation Track & Field Team

Tadahiro Nomura

Born in Nara prefecture, Nomura won a gold medal in the men's judo 60kg category at three consecutive Olympic Games: Atlanta 1996, Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004. He is the first person in the history of judo and the first Asian athlete in any Olympic sport to have won gold in three consecutive Games. Since his retirement, he has been actively promoting judo both at home and abroad. He now serves as a member of the Tokyo 2020 Games Medal Design Competition Panel and as a Tokyo 2020 Torch Relay official Ambassador.

Nomura commented, “I am very honoured to run as a torchbearer in Greece where the Olympic Games originated. I will run and pass the flame of the Olympics with the pride of an Olympian and passion for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.”

Nomura, torchbearer before the Handover Ceremony
Nomura, torchbearer before the Handover Ceremony
© Nextend

Saori Yoshida

Born in Mie prefecture, Yoshida is a freestyle wrestler who claimed 13 consecutive world titles up to 2015 and won gold medals at three Olympic Games: Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 and London 2012. In 2012, she was presented with a National Honour Award for achieving 13 consecutive wins, including Olympic and world championships. In 2016, she won a silver medal at the Rio Olympics and has racked up a total of 16 consecutive world titles and 206 individual match wins in a row. In January 2019, she announced her retirement, marking the end of her 33-year career.

Yoshida said, “Athens 2004 was my first Olympic Games. It is my great pleasure to run in such a memorable and sacred place, and bring the flame lit in Greece to Japan. As my great mission, I will surely pass it to the upcoming Tokyo 2020.”

Yoshida, torchbearer before the Handover Ceremony
Yoshida, torchbearer before the Handover Ceremony
© YSW Tokyo

Flame Handover Ceremony overview

Following the Greek leg of the Torch Relay, a ceremony to mark the handover of the flame from the Hellenic Olympic Committee to Tokyo 2020 representatives will be held at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens on 19 March 2020. The ceremony will be open to the public. After a cultural performance by Greek dancers and entertainers, the host country of Japan will stage its own cultural performance, under the direction of EXILE HIRO.

Flame Handover Ceremony Agenda

  • Remarks by representatives from the Hellenic Olympic Committee and Tokyo 2020
  • Cultural performances by Greece and Japan
  • A torchbearer will enter the Panathenaic Stadium and light the Olympic flame on a Celebration Cauldron, which will subsequently make its way to Japan


Details of presenters will be communicated as soon as they are decided.