The Tokyo Olympic flame has been taken off public display in Japan.
The flame arrived in Japan from Greece on March 26. The flame was put on display in the northeastern prefecture of Fukushima. It was to remain on display through the end of April. But it has been removed after the Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday issued a state of emergency to combat the coronavirus.
“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.
The flame is expected to reappear next year in Japan for the torch relay. But Michael Payne, the former marketing director of the IOC, who no longer works for the IOC, hinted it could have a broader purpose.
“The Olympic flame burning will provide a very powerful inspiration, a bright light as the world goes through these difficult times,” he said.
The Tokyo Olympics and the torch relay has been postponed until next year.