Tokyo Olympic organizers unveiled the map route for the torch relay that will begin March 26.
As previously announced, the 121-day relay starts in the tsunami-affected prefecture of Fukushima, after the Olympic flame arrives from its ceremonial lighting in Olympia, Greece.
The relay concludes at the Opening Ceremony on July 24, the earliest Opening Ceremony since the 1996 Atlanta Games (July 19).
The relay will visit all 47 prefectures of Japan with emphasis on the area affected by the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Around 98 percent of Japan’s population live within one hour by car or train of the route.
With the motto “Hope Lights Our Way,” it will visit the three prefectures most affected by the tsunami and earthquake (Fukushima (March 26-28), Iwate (June 17-19) and Miyagi (June 20-22)) for three days each.
More than 18,000 people died or went missing after a massive earthquake and tsunami in 2011.
The International Olympic Committee and Tokyo organizers have been eager to use the Games as a symbol of recovery from the 2011 disaster that hit Japan’s northeastern region including Fukushima, 150 miles north of Tokyo, where entire communities fled after meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant.
In March 2017, Tokyo 2020 confirmed that some baseball and softball games will be held in Fukushima.
The torch relay will spend 15 days in the Tokyo metropolitan area, plus three days each in the four prefectures hosting multiple Olympic events (Chiba, Kanagawa, Saitama and Shizuoka).
The flame will also visit World Heritage sites designated by UNESCO, including Mt. Fuji, and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, dedicated to the victims of the world’s first atomic bombing in 1945.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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