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Fukuahima Olympic Flame
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Olympic Flame’s public display in Japan suspended

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The Olympic Flame will be taken off public display in Fukushima after a state of emergency was declared for Tokyo and surrounding areas due to the coronavirus on Tuesday.

The public display in Fukushima, where in 2011 more than 18,000 people died or went missing after an earthquake and tsunami, will be suspended on Wednesday, according to Tokyo 2020.

The Flame arrived in Japan on March 20 and has been on public display in Fukushima since March 24, the day the Tokyo Games were postponed until 2021 (and the torch relay suspended, too).

The Flame was originally to remain on public display in Fukushima through the end of April.

The Japanese leg of the Olympic torch relay was to begin on March 26 in Fukushima, where the first competition of the Tokyo Games — softball — was scheduled two days before the Opening Ceremony. Tokyo organizers hope to keep a similar schedule for the Olympics in 2021.

The Olympic Flame is expected to remain in Japan until the torch relay restarts.

“The Olympic Flame could become the light at the end of the tunnel in which the world finds itself at present,” IOC President Thomas Bach said in announcing the Olympic postponement.

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Who is Japan’s greatest Olympian?

Kaori Icho
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Japan, host of the Tokyo Olympics next year, is best known for its gymnasts, wrestlers, judokas and figure skaters. At Rio 2016 and PyeongChang 2018, it broke national records for total medals at a single Games. A look at six of its most decorated Olympians in history …

Yuzuru Hanyu
Figure Skating
Two Olympic gold medals

Largely recognized as the greatest figure skater in history (other athletes on this list can make the same claim for their events). Hanyu, a 2014 and 2018 Olympic champion, became the first repeat men’s singles figure skating champion since Dick Button in 1952. The 25-year-old from Sendai rewrote the record book for highest scores (since surpassed by American Nathan Chen) with an unmatched combination of athleticism and artistry. His fans camp outside arenas — even for lower-level events in North America — dress in his costumes and shower the ice with Winnie the Poohs, his favorite animated character.

Kaori Icho
Wrestling
Four Olympic gold medals

In Rio, Icho became the first woman to win individual gold medals in four Summer Olympics. The men to do it: Michael PhelpsCarl LewisAl Oerter, Ben Ainslie and Paul Elvstrom. Icho once held a 13-year win streak and owns 10 world championships. She has been somewhat of a mystery to Japanese fans, seeking privacy and living for a time with her sister in Canada and skipping a world championships during her peak years. Icho’s Olympic career is likely over after another Japanese wrestler qualified for the Tokyo Games in her weight division last year.

Sawao Kato
Gymnastics
Eight Olympic gold medals

Owns the most Olympic men’s gymnastics titles and the most gold medals for any Japanese Olympian. The 5-foot-3 Kato was a pillar of the Japanese dynasty in the 1960s and ’70s, when the nation won five straight Olympic team titles. He earned two golds and one silver in the all-around in that span,

Kosuke Kitajima
Swimming
Four Olympic gold medals

The greatest breaststroker in history. Kitajima swept the 100m and 200m events at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics among seven total medals in four Olympic appearances. So famous in Japan, he moved to Los Angeles to escape the public eye. In retirement, Kitajima has worked in Japanese media: he covered the 2018 U.S. Swimming Championships in California and took American star Chase Kalisz out for golf for another broadcast piece.

Tadahiro Nomura
Judo
Three Olympic gold medals

The only judoka with three Olympic titles. Nomura won the extra lightweight (60kg) division in 1996, 2000 and 2004. His father coached a 1984 Olympic champion judoka. His uncle won an Olympic judo title in 1972. Nomura gained extra visibility at home given judo was founded in Japan. The Japanese are far and away the most successful judo nation by Olympic medals (84 total, 39 gold).

Kohei Uchimura
Gymnastics
Two Olympic all-around titles

King Kohei won every Olympic and world all-around title from 2009-16, including becoming the first man since Kato to repeat as Olympic all-around gold medalist. Similar to Simone Biles‘ dominance, there was a stretch where peers went into competitions vying for, at best, second place. Uchimura, the son of gymnasts, grew up in his parents’ gym and began competing at age 6. Since winning the Rio Olympic all-around by a razor-thin .099, he has struggled with injuries, putting him in doubt to make the Tokyo Games.

MORE: Most decorated U.S. female Olympian on front line of coronavirus fight

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As Olympic Flame arrives in Japan, IOC considers scenarios for Tokyo Games

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The Olympic Flame landed in Japan on Friday for a 121-day trek leading up to the July 24 Opening Ceremony.

“While we do not know how long the tunnel we are all in at this moment will be, we would like the Olympic Flame to be a light at the end of this tunnel,” IOC president Thomas Bach said.

Bach also repeated his stance that it would not be responsible to set a deadline on an Olympic decision because it would be based on speculation. The IOC has a task force, including the World Health Organization, which said it is too early to make a decision with four months to go

Bach said “of course, we are considering different scenarios” for the Olympics amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to The New York Times.

Bach was asked if the IOC had a group considering what an Olympics would look like if held later this year or in 2021 or 2022. He did not detail any possible scenarios but repeated that cancellation is not on the agenda, according to the report. And that the priority is protecting the health of everyone involved and supporting the containment of the virus.

At a Japanese air base Friday, three-time Olympic gold medalists Saori Yoshida (wrestling) and Tadahiro Nomura (judo) received the Flame at a lighting ceremony.

“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,” Tokyo 2020 organizing committee President Yoshiro Mori said at a scaled-down event, according to The Associated Press.

The flame was lit in the Ancient Olympic site of Olympia on March 12 and spent eight days in Greece.

The relay is scheduled to 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.

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