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Big crowds force HOC to suspend Olympic torch relay in Greece

Big crowds force HOC to suspend Olympic torch relay in Greece
By Reuters

13/03/2020 at 11:52Updated 13/03/2020 at 15:46

The Hellenic Olympic Committee (HOC) decided to suspend the remainder of the Olympic Torch relay through the country to avoid attracting crowds because of coronavirus, it said on Friday.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics torch relay got under way on Thursday when the flame was lit by the rays of the sun in ancient Olympia in a scaled-down ceremony overshadowed by the coronavirus pandemic.

But HOC said the opening leg of the relay in the southern Peloponnese town of Sparta attracted unexpectedly high crowds, forcing it to suspend the remaining stops. The handover of the flame to the Tokyo Games organisers would take place as scheduled in Athens on March 19 without spectators.

The IOC later released their own statement.

"We fully understand the decision taken by the Hellenic Olympic Committee (HOC) in association with the Greek Ministry of Health to cancel the Greek leg of the Olympic Torch Relay.

"The handover of the Olympic Flame will happen as scheduled on 19 March 2020. The International Olympic Committee confirms its full commitment to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020."