March 25, 2021 — The Olympic Torch Relay began today in the J-Village national football training facility in Naraha, Fukushima. Ten years ago, J-Village became a base for the Japanese government as it tried to tackle the meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in the aftermath of the earthquake and tusnami of March 11, 2011. It re-opened as a football facility in 2019, and stands now as an example of the steady building back from those dark days that followed the earthquake that took the lives of so many thousands in Japan.
The first torchbearers were the Nadeshiko 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 native Owada Asato. It will then continue onwards across the host nation, visiting 859 municipalities en route to its final destination – the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo.
Today’s activities come just over a year after the Olympic flame first touched down in Japan, on 20 March 2020 at Matsushima Airbase in Miyagi, after being lit in Greece at Ancient Olympia. Following the postponement of the Games by a year to 2021, the Olympic flame found a home at the new Olympic Museum in Tokyo, and from there it visited 14 Prefectures and 86 municipalities, welcomed with great enthusiasm by the Japanese public and media wherever it went. It is estimated that the flame received over 62,000 visitors.
PHOTOS: The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games