Fire doesn’t care about mere mortals and fatal viruses, but the International Olympic Committee probably should. On March 20, the Committee transported the Olympic flame from Greece to an air base in northern Japan, to kick off the precursory events to the 2020 Summer Olympics, still scheduled to begin in Tokyo on July 24. Variety reports that many qualifying athletic events have been canceled and that many stops on the Olympic torch relay will now be held without the usual crowds of spectators. Despite the fact that a large gathering of thousands of people from around the globe, not to mention the entire concept of an Olympic Village, do not seem realistic or safe in this current health crisis, Olympic officials have yet to officially postpone the Games. On Monday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe did not confirm the start date to reporters, so a postponed-date announcement is likely forthcoming.
At the small arrival ceremony Friday morning, organizing committee president Yoshiro Mori said, “For the first time in 56 years, the Olympic torch is heading to Tokyo, and I hope that the Olympic torch will illuminate the path of hope for many people.” Whether four months from now the torch is a symbol of hope or a symbol of ignorance in the face of a crisis remains to be seen.