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Fans likely to be barred from Olympic torch relay start

TOKYO, Japan, Mar 9 – The starting ceremony for this month’s Olympic torch relay will likely be held without spectators, a Japanese newspaper reported Tuesday, but fans will still be able to line the route.

The Yomiuri Shimbun daily reported that organisers feared crowding at the March 25 event in Fukushima, and would probably bar the 3,000 spectators initially planned.

A spokesman for Tokyo 2020 organisers would say only that “details of the (relay) Grand Start are still under discussion.”

The organisers have already laid out strict rules for the virus-delayed, nationwide relay, which was called off in 2020 after the historic decision to postpone the Games by a year.

Cheering along the relay route will be strictly banned, and people are asked to only attend sections near their homes and avoid crowding.

Mask-wearing will be mandatory, and spectators are asked to offer “support with applause and by using distributed goods rather than shouting or cheering”.

Portions of the relay could also be suspended if there is overcrowding.

Organisers are battling persistent doubts about whether the Games can be held safely this summer and have unveiled a rulebook with various virus countermeasures.

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They are set to decide this month whether foreign fans will be able to attend, with limits on overall spectator numbers to be set next month.

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