Tokyo 2020 held an Olympic Torch Relay rehearsal in three cities earlier this month in order to work out and fix any potential problems that may arise during the official event.

The test event was seen by hundreds of people in the three cities of Hamura, Kokubunji and Hachioji. Participants carried unlit torches for about 200 metres in the three on February 15th.

The event, which even included a pre-enactment of the departure ceremony and a simulation of the lighting of the torch was held to help organizers find any errors that may crop up during the official event. To simulate the actual event that will be held just over a month away, traffic restrictions were put in place, and security personnel and police stood in their places.

Tokyo 2020 spokesperson Masa Takaya spoke to news outlet Reuters, “Today’s rehearsal is focused on the entire operation. This will be the first and last time we do it. We want to check every aspect of it (the rehearsal) so we see this as an important opportunity.”

As stated by Kyodo News, Actress Satomi Ishihara is due to take part in the official event, and was seen carrying the torch in the official Tokyo 2020 white uniforms during the third segment of the practice relay in Hamura. Talking to reporters, she said, “I was very nervous before running. But it went by so fast. I'm really glad I was able to rehearse ahead of the start of the torch relay because I ended up running too fast today."

Three other torchbearers were seen taking part in the rehearsal, including Paralympian Aki Taguchi who took part in the final section of the event. As reported by Tokyo 2020’s official news section, Taguchi said,“I think the torch relay is something that will connect each and every one of us – everyone’s hearts will be united as we reach and arrive at the Olympic stadium”.

The 71-centimetre torch resembles Japan’s iconic cherry blossoms and was carried through the city of Hamura, surrounded by a convoy of promotional vehicles and Olympic floats before making its way through Kokubunji and Hachioji on Saturday afternoon. Kyodo News reports that despite some sections in the relay taking 10 minutes longer than expected, organizers did not find any major faults during the rehearsal. To smooth out any problems, Tokyo 2020 will continue to work with organizers of each prefecture.

The official relay will last for 121 days in the build-up to the start of the Olympics which is due to go ahead on July 24. The torch will arrive in Japan after being lit and starting its journey in Greece on March 12. Beginning in Fukushima prefecture on March 26, the torch will visit all 47 prefectures, starting with a segment run by members of the Japan team who won the 2011 women’s soccer world cup.

Before making its entrance at the Tokyo 2020 opening ceremony, which is due to be held at Tokyo’s National Stadium on July 24, the flame will pass by some of Japan’s most iconic landmarks including Mount Fuji and Hiroshima Peace Park. Approximately 10,000 other torchbearers will help the torch make its journey across the country.

By - Connie Sceaphierde.