Japanese sports stars Osako, Kawasumi quit Olympic torch relay
(Xinhua) 10:43, March 17, 2021
Osako Suguru of Japan celebrates during the final of the men's 10,000m of athletics at the 26th Summer Universiade in Shenzhen, a city of south China's Guangdong Province Aug. 17, 2011. Osako Suguru claimed the title with 28:42.83. (Xinhua/Gong Lei)
Japan's marathon star and women's World Cup-winning footballer Nahomi Kawasumi confirmed on Monday that they would not attend the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympic torch relay to kick off next week.
TOKYO, March 16 (Xinhua) -- Japan's marathon star and women's World Cup-winning footballer Nahomi Kawasumi confirmed on Monday that they would not attend the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympic torch relay to kick off next week.
Osako, who broke the Japanese national record several times, said that he is training in Kenya and will be unable to fly back home to run the relay on the opening day in Fukushima on March 25.
The 29-year-old, whose best result was 2:05:29, will compete in his second Olympic Games this summer following his debut four years ago in Rio.
Kawasumi, 35, who guided Japan to the World Cup in 2011, said that it is difficult to make travel arrangements during the coronavirus pandemic from the United States, where she is based.
Her national teammates Mana Iwabuchi and Saki Kumagai, both of whom play in Europe, also declined the chance to participate.
Kawasumi Nahomi of Japan scores a goal during the match against Australia at women's qualifying tournament for 2012 Olympic Games in Jinan, capital of Shandong Province of China, on Sept. 5, 2011(Xinhua/Guo Xulei)
Members of the 2011 World Cup-winning team will carry the torch on the relay's first domestic leg, while Osako was listed as the third torch bearer last year before the Olympics was postponed.
Over 30 torchbearers, including dignitaries like star actress Takako Tokiwa, actor Rugger Tohru, former Japan international rugby player Yu Tamura, and star sumo wrestler Shoudai Naoya, have also decided not to run the torch relay, which will take 121 days and cover all 47 prefectures across Japan.
Tokyo 2020 president Seiko Hashimoto has announced that all those withdrawn torch bearers are welcome back.
The seven-time Olympian, whose given name of "Seiko" means Olympic flame in Japanese, said that running the torch relay is a "tremendous honor" and "great opportunity."
"I am confident that as many people as possible will take part in the torch relay," she told reporters earlier this month.