Tokyo 2020 announces first bearers of the Olympic Torch Relay in Japan

The first bearers of the Olympic Torch Relay in Japan
The first bearers of the Olympic Torch Relay in Japan

Other details, including the route, the “Torch Kiss” poses and merchandise, also unveiled

The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Tokyo 2020) has announced details of the torchbearers who will participate in the “Grand Start” of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay, due to take place at J-Village National Training Centre in Fukushima. Other details of the relay, including the route, the special pose that will be adopted by torchbearers when passing the flame and samples of the licensed merchandise being produced to commemorate it, were also unveiled.

Meet the “Grand Start” torchbearers

The first torchbearer to carry the Olympic flame once it lands on Japanese shores will be members of the Japan Women's National Soccer Team which won the FIFA Women's World Cup in Germany in 2011. They became the first senior team from Asia to win a World Cup.

The fighting spirit the team displayed during the World Cup inspired many of the people struggling in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake, which had struck the country earlier that year. Their achievement was recognised by the conferring of a National Honour Award on the whole team in August 2011. The following year, they won silver medals as runners-up at the Olympic Games London 2012 and reached the finals of the FIFA Women's World Cup.

Japan Women's National Soccer Team
Japan Women's National Soccer Team

What does the Olympic Torch Relay route look like?

Commencing its journey on 26 March 2020 from J-Village National Training Centre in Fukushima Prefecture, the Olympic flame will traverse all of Japan’s 47 prefectures, passing by many of the nation’s most famous and cherished sights for a period of 121 days, serving as a symbol of the Olympic Games and visiting 858 local municipalities along the way.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay route will take in World Heritage Sites such as Mount Fuji and Itsukushima shrine and other historic locations and popular places, including favourite local community spots, with the charm of each being showcased during the relay. The relay will also take in areas that are continuing to recover from natural disasters, such as the Tohoku region, which was struck by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay “Torch Kiss” poses

Tokyo 2020 has created three poses that can be adopted by torchbearers during the “Torch Kiss” – the passing of the flame from one torchbearer to another. These aim to embody the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay concept “Hope Lights Our Way”. The poses have been labelled “2020”, “Connecting With Each Other” and “Hope Lights Our Way”. Torchbearers can select one of these or adopt any other pose that best reflects their own feelings on the day.

“Torch Kiss” poses
“Torch Kiss” poses

Tokyo 2020 social media photo contest

Tokyo 2020 and the four Presenting Partners will host a photo contest via Tokyo 2020’s social media channels on Twitter and Instagram. Members of the public will be invited to submit photos with the hashtag #HopeLightsOurWay (in Japanese: #みんなの聖火), incorporating themes suggested by each of the Tokyo 2020 Partners, such as local scenic spots and messages of support to torchbearers. A gift will be given to 200 selected contributors. Candidates must be resident in Japan and the winners’ names will be announced on the Tokyo 2020 official website and via the respective Presenting Partners’ website. The photo contest will run from 18 December 2019 to 29 February 2020. The winners will be announced on 19 March 2020.