Plane leaves Japan to collect
Olympic flame, no 2020 delegates aboard
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[March 18, 2020]
By Jack Tarrant
TOKYO (Reuters) - A plane sporting
Tokyo 2020 livery departed Haneda International Airport on Wednesday
bound for Athens to collect the Olympic flame, but there was no
delegation from organizers onboard due to concerns about the
Tokyo 2020 said it chose not to send the high-level delegation,
which was originally set to include organizing committee president
Yoshiro Mori and Olympics minister Seiko Hashimoto, to Greece due to
The flu-like virus has killed more than 7,500 people and brought
sport to a standstill around the world.
Japan's ambassador to Greece will receive the flame at a handover
ceremony, organizers said. Lower-level Tokyo 2020 officials who
traveled to Greece last week will accompany the flame back to Japan.
Some 20 airline and airport staff waved the plane off with very
little fanfare at the airport, which was almost empty as travel
restrictions aimed at stopping the spread of the virus have lead to
widespread flight cancellations.
The Olympic flame will arrive on Japanese soil on Friday at
Matushima airbase and be greeted by another low key ceremony.
Despite sporting events being canceled across the world in response
to the coronavirus outbreak, Olympics organizers maintain the Games
will start as planned on July 24.
[to top of second column]
Staff members of Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways and runway
crew wave as they see off the 'Tokyo 2020 Go' aircraft, before it
departs for Greece, to transport the Olympic Flame back to Japan, at
Haneda international airport in Tokyo, Japan March 18, 2020.
The International Olympic Committee said on Tuesday that it does not
plan any "drastic" decisions about the Games, saying it remains
fully committed to the event being staged in four months' time
despite the global spread of the coronavirus.
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)
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