Spectators barred from Tokyo Olympic Games torch lighting ceremony

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics torch lighting ceremony in Greece will be held without spectators after for the first time in more 35 years.

The move by Greece’s Olympic Committee has been introduced as part of increased measures to protect against the coronavirus.

Spectators would be excluded from both the dress rehearsal at the ancient site of Olympia and the widely broadcast ceremony. The ceremony usually attracts several thousand spectators.

“The lighting ceremony of the Olympic flame will be done without the presence of spectators and only 100 invited and accredited guests,” the Greek Olympic Committee said in a statement.

“The dress rehearsal on March 11 will be closed to spectators and media.”

The number of people inside the ancient stadium will also be reduced with only a few dozen representatives of the Tokyo Games from a group of about 150 allowed access to the ceremony.

“The danger of staging the torch lighting with only a handful of spectators, limited number of officials and delegations, and under a cloud of fear and concern will damage the greatness and prestige of this event,” Olympia mayor Giorgos Georgiopoulos said in a letter to International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach.

“With a sense of responsibility, the municipal authority, all parties of the city council of Ancient Olympia, in order to secure the global radiance of the event asks the IOC which has the exclusive responsibility of organizing it to consider the possibility of moving the torch lighting ceremony to May of this year.”