Tokyo Olympic flame taken off display; next stop unclear

People take pictures with the Olympic Flame in Fukushima City, Japan. (Files/AP)
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Updated 09 April 2020

Tokyo Olympic flame taken off display; next stop unclear

  • The flame is expected to reappear next year in Japan for the torch relay

TOKYO: The Tokyo Olympic flame has been taken off public display in Japan. And it’s not clear when it will reappear again or where — or under what conditions.

The flame arrived in Japan from Greece on March 26. After the Tokyo Olympics and the torch relay were postponed until next year, the flame was put on display in the northeastern prefecture of Fukushima. It was to remain on display through the end of April.

It was removed after several days when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday issued a state of emergency in order to combat the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), which includes limiting large crowds.

“Tokyo 2020 will now keep the flame in an undisclosed location to prevent people from gathering,” Tokyo organizers said in a statement to The Associated Press.

Tokyo organizers are expected to keep the flame for the short term. In the long term, the flame is expected to be used by the International Olympic Committee as a promotion device and as a symbol of the fight against the pandemic.

HIGHLIGHT

It was removed after several days when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday issued a state of emergency in order to combat the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), which includes limiting large crowds.

“The idea will be to keep this flame burning and showing it to the world,” Michael Payne, the former marketing director of the IOC, told the AP in a recent interview.

The flame is expected to reappear next year in Japan for the torch relay. But Payne, who no longer works for the IOC, hinted it could have a wider purpose.

“The Olympic flame burning will provide a very powerful inspiration, a bright light as the world goes through these difficult times," he said.

Prior to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Chinese organizers and the IOC organized an international torch relay that went to about 20 countries.

The worldwide tour was met by violent protests against China's human rights record in Tibet and elsewhere. The flame was targeted at several stops including London, Paris and San Francisco. This forced organizers to reroute the relay to separate protesters and supporters.

The chaos at the time was described as a “crisis” for the IOC by then-President Jacques Rogge. The IOC subsequently canceled any future plans for a worldwide display of the flame.

Any plan next year to take the flame on a world tour, or even a tour of Japan, will depend on the evolution of the virus. The same is true for holding the Olympics amid large crowds in just
under 16 months.

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NBA star Durant rules himself out for rest of season

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NBA star Durant rules himself out for rest of season

  • NBA star ruptured his right Achilles tendon in last June’s NBA Finals
  • Kevin Durant among a dozen NBA players who tested positive for coronavirus in the spring

LOS ANGELES: NBA superstar Kevin Durant, who has not played since he tore his Achilles tendon a year ago, said he would not make his debut with the Brooklyn Nets when the season resumes late July in Orlando.
“My season is over. I don’t plan on playing at all,” in the 2019-2020 season, Durant said in an interview Friday with The Undefeated.
“We decided last summer when it first happened that I was just going to wait until the following season. I had no plans of playing at all this season.”
The NBA suspended its season on March 11 as the COVID-19 pandemic erupted, leaving professional sport in North America at a standstill.
The league’s board of governors on Thursday gave the green light to a plan to restart the season at Disney World in Orlando, Florida on July 31, without spectators.
The news was followed by speculation over whether Durant would appear.
Durant, who was the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player for the Golden State Warriors in their 2017 and 2018 championship runs, ruptured his right Achilles tendon in last June’s NBA Finals.
He then left California to join Brooklyn, where fans were hoping he would form a formidable duet with Kyrie Irving, who also arrived last summer.
“It’s just best for me to wait. I don’t think I’m ready to play that type of intensity right now in the next month,” said Durant.
He said however that his rehab was going well.
“I’m doing well. Working out every day. I’m moving. I’m feeling like a normal player again,” he told The Undefeated.
Plans to restart the league received the approval of the players’ union on Friday, although some details remain to be ironed out.
Durant, who is among a dozen NBA players who tested positive for coronavirus in the spring, has not said whether he will accompany his teammates to Florida.