The organisers of the Tokyo Olympics have reported the first infection from the nationwide torch relay on Thursday, as the pandemic continues run havoc with the massive event. Without specifying his exact role organisers said an unnamed man in his 30s, who took part in the relay in the western island of Shikoku had tested positive for the virus.
The organisers have pledged to work with medical authorities to take the precautions needed to put on a safe and secure torch relay and keep the virus at bay. It is the first reported case related to the relay, which has been forced off public roads in some areas over fears it will spread the virus.
There was a last-minute change of plans in the torch relay as it was not allowed to be running through the streets of Osaka prefecture due to a spike in COVID-19 cases across the city. The Olympic Torch Relay began at the J-Village national football training facility in Naraha, Fukushima. The torch relay will visit 859 municipalities across the nation on the way to its final destination which is the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo.
The first torchbearers were the Japan women’s football team, who won the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup. They took the flame from the Grand Start to the second torchbearer, 16-year-old Fukushima.
According to some economists, because of the delayed Olympics financial loss could reach between $5.42 billion to $6.32 billion. The impact would apply both to the nation which has invested heavily in making the Olympics a national showcase and to companies that have poured an estimated $3 billion into sponsorships.
The task of keeping COVID away will be a huge challenge for the organizers. Over 15,000 athletes and their staff from over 200 countries will arrive in Japan later this year accompanied by tens of thousands of officials, judges, media, and broadcasters.