The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Organizing Committee has announced the schedule for the 2020 Olympic torch relay. The Olympic flame will be lit at the historic site of Ancient Olympia in Greece on March 12th, 2020 – a day later than originally announced. After a week-long initial leg of the Olympic Torch Relay in Greece, a flame handover ceremony will take place at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens on 19 March 2020.
A special aircraft bearing the name “TOKYO 2020 Go” will then transport the Olympic flame to Japan, landing at JASDF Matsushima Air Base in Miyagi prefecture, where local children will escort the flame onto a stage.
Olympic champions Tadahiro Nomura (judo), Saori Yoshida (freestyle wrestler), and Mizuki Noguchi (women’s marathon runner) will take on the role of delivering the Olympic flame from Greece to Japan together with Tokyo 2020 representatives. During the arrival ceremony at JASDF Matsushima Air Base, they will have the responsibility of unveiling the flame in its first appearance on Japanese soil.
A model of the special aircraft commissioned to transport the Tokyo 2020 Olympic flame to Japan will also be on site. The artwork on the side of the plane is designed to reflect the Tokyo 2020 Olympic torch concept “Hope Lights Our Way” and depict the journey of the Olympic Torch Relay, consisting of an Olympic torchbearer pictogram emblazoned on the front of the aircraft, followed by an ochre-colored emblem along the side of the plane to the Olympic Torch Relay emblem on the tail. The flight of this special aircraft will constitute the all-important first stage of the Olympic Torch Relay, a journey that will be continued by the torchbearers on the ground.
The name of the aircraft incorporates the Japanese word “号” or “number,” the suffix used for the numbering of trains, buses, and aircraft. This also has a similar pronunciation to the English “Go!”, implying the start of a journey. The overall name is intended to reflect the plane’s mission to deliver the flame to the Olympic Games and the sense of anticipation as the Games near.
After the arrival of the aforementioned “TOKYO 2020 Go” aircraft in Miyagi, a special display of the “Flame of Recovery” will be staged in Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima prefectures from March 20th to the 25th of next year.
On March 26th, the Olympic flame will commence its 121-day journey through all 47 prefectures of Japan, passing by many of the nation’s most famous and cherished sights, serving as a symbol of the Olympic Games and visiting 857 local municipalities along the way.
The Olympic torch relay has no basis in the ancient Olympic Games, and was first introduced by Carl Diem for the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. In 2004 and 2008, the torch was transported on ‘global relays,’ hitting hundreds of countries around the world, but because it was met with widespread protests, the IOC announced in 2009 that future torch relays would jump from Greece to the host country.