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The relay brings the Olympic flame — the iconic symbol of the ancient games — from Olympia, in Greece to the capital city of Japan in relay form. The flame is carried from person to person until it reaches Tokyo for the opening ceremony. And you don’t have to be an elite athlete or record-breaking runner to compete, because this relay is open to walkers, runners and skippers alike.
Applications are open to people of any nationality, gender, age (older than 11 years old) and to people of all abilities. Ideally, applicants should also have some sort of personal connection to the area, but the flame will cross through all 47 Japanese prefectures, so it may be easier to find a connection than you think.
In total, there will be about 10,000 torchbearers for the Japanese leg of the relay, and over half of those torchbearers will be members of the public. The Grecian journey of the relay is handled differently, but for Japan, each leg of the relay is about 200 meters (656 feet). The Japanese relay begins on March 26, 2020 at J-Village National Training Centre in Fukushima Prefecture and ends 121 days later.
Both the application and cost to participate are free, but each participant is responsible for flights and other travel expenses including accommodations. So, if you can get to Tokyo on miles or book one of the best hotels for points in Tokyo, this could be a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Applicants can also try their luck in five different places. The Prefecture Task Forces (groups led by local Japanese governments), allow one application per person beginning on July 1. You can also apply to become a torchbearer through any of the four Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay Presenting Partners: Coca Cola (Japan) Company, Limited; Toyota Motor Corporation; Nippon Life; and Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (NTT).
As of Monday, the Coca Cola (Japan) Co. application is the first to open with a deadline of Aug. 31, 2019; the three other partners open applications on June 24. You can apply to all of the Presenting Partners, but you can only apply once to the Prefecture Task Force.
The Prefecture Task Forces and Presenting Partners will select their picks for torchbearers, recommend these selections to Tokyo 2020 and then Tokyo 2020 will select the torchbearers and announce them in December of 2019.
The concept for the Olympic Relay is “Hope Lights Our Way” to unite, support, accept and encourage the Japanese people, and the route was even designed to include 98% of the Japanese population within an hour train or car ride. Applicants should think about personal stories they can share that support the theme.
The Paralympic Torch Relay takes place from Aug. 13 through Aug. 25 to close the Olympic Games and to open the Tokyo 202 Paralympic Games.
Featured photo by Milos Bicanski / Getty Images.
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