02:26 GMT20 April 2021
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    • Torchbearers pose during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic torch relay on the first day of the relay in Naraha, Fukushima prefecture, Japan, 25 March 2021.
    • Members of the Spa Resort Hawaiians Dancing Team Hula Girls during an opening performance on the first day of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic torch relay in Naraha, Fukushima prefecture, Japan, 25 March 2021.
    • Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto looks on as actress Satomi Ishihara and Paralympian Aki Taguchi light the celebration cauldron on the first day of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic torch relay in Naraha, Fukushima prefecture, Japan, 25 March 2021.
    • Children wearing face masks hold fans as they wait along the route of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic torch relay, in the midst of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Naraha, Fukushima prefecture, Japan, 25 March 2021.
    • Torchbearers, accompanied by a convoy, pass spectators during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic torch relay on the first day of the relay in Naraha, Fukushima prefecture, Japan, 25 March 2021.
    • A member of the marching band Seeds+ plays a trumpet during the opening performance on the first day of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic torch relay in Naraha, Fukushima prefecture, Japan, 25 March  2021.
    • A local sign contains announcements to bystanders - No crowding, left, and hand clapping to cheer - for the benefit of torchbearers at the torch relay route of the first section of the Fukushima Torch Relay in Naraha, Fukushima prefecture, northeastern Japan, Thursday, 25 March 2021. The torch relay for the postponed Tokyo Olympics began its 121-day journey across Japan on Thursday and is headed toward the opening ceremony in Tokyo on 23 July 2021.
    • The celebration cauldron is lit on the first day of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic torch relay in Naraha, Fukushima prefecture, Japan, 25 March 2021.
    • People wearing face masks wait under blooming cherry blossom trees along the route of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic torch relay, in the midst of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Naraha, Fukushima prefecture, Japan, 25 March 2021.
    • A torchbearer poses with Naraha town mascot Yuzutaro after running his leg of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic torch relay, on the first day of the relay in Naraha, Fukushima prefecture, Japan, 25 March 2021.
    • Children wearing face masks wait along the route of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic torch relay on the first day of the relay in Naraha, Fukushima prefecture, Japan, 25 March 2021.
    • Japanese torchbearer Azusa Iwashimizu (L), a member of the Japan women's national football team, holds an Olympic Torch after passing the flame to the next torchbearer during the torch relay grand start at the J-Village National Training Centre in Naraha, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, 25 March 2021.
    © REUTERS / Issei Kato
    Torchbearers pose during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic torch relay on the first day of the relay in Naraha, Fukushima prefecture, Japan, 25 March 2021.

    The rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus forced governments across the world to cancel outdoor sports because of safety concerns. Sports activities have suffered dramatically, but now all eyes are on Tokyo, where the spirit of the Olympics is expected to boost people's hope for a brighter future when normal life returns.

    The torch relay for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics began in Japan on Thursday despite the fact that COVID-19 restrictions remain in place.

    Organisers of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics decided that foreign spectators will not be allowed to attend the summer games because of health and safety concerns arising from the pandemic. The games in Tokyo were initially to be held in 2020 but have been postponed to July-August 2021.

    Check out Sputnik's photo gallery to see how Olympic torch relay has begun in an age of coronavirus.

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