Paralympic flame ceremonies begin as virus surges in Japan

Friday, August 13th, 2021 00:00 |
Torch-bearer Miu Takahashi (C) lights a lantern during a flame-lighting ceremony for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games in Iwate Prefecture yesterday. Photo/AFP

Tokyo, Thursday

Japan held its first Paralympic flame-lighting ceremonies on Thursday, with athletes waiting to learn whether spectators will be in the stands as the country battles a spike in virus cases.

Fans were banned from almost all venues at the pandemic-postponed Tokyo Olympics, which ended Sunday, while athletes faced restrictions on movement and were tested daily.

The Paralympics are expected to take place under similar conditions when they begin on August 24, Japanese media said, with an official decision on spectators expected early next week.

Although Japan has seen a comparatively small Covid-19 outbreak overall, with around 15,300 deaths, the latest wave driven by the more infectious Delta variant is pushing daily case numbers to new records.

Tokyo and five other regions are currently under a virus state of emergency, which bans bars and restaurants from serving alcohol and asks them to close by 8pm.  -AFP

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