It was barely two weeks ago that officials, deciding to postpone the 2020 Tokyo Games because of the coronavirus outbreak, touted the Olympic flame as a “light at the end of the tunnel.”
Now that light will dim.
A monthlong state of emergency in Tokyo and six other prefectures — established because of a domestic spike in COVID-19 cases — is forcing the flame to be removed from public viewing.
It was supposed to be on display through April as a reminder of the Summer Games, which will take place in late July 2021. Officials decided to showcase it in Fukushima, the disaster-struck city where the torch relay was to begin last month.
Japanese Prime Minster Shinzo Abe declared the state of emergency, in force through May 6, after reported coronavirus cases rose to 1,116 in Tokyo over the weekend. Japan had 3,906 cases and 91 deaths nationwide.
Residents have been asked to stay at home.
The Olympic flame, which recently arrived from Greece, will remain in Japan through next year.