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Japanese, foreign runners welcome to apply for Tokyo 2020 Olympic torch relay

The uniform for runners in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic torch relay featuring a stripe resembling the sashes worn by runners in Japan's ekiden road relay races, is seen in this photo provided by Tokyo 2020.

TOKYO -- The organizing committee of the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games on June 1 announced details on its selection of torchbearers for the games' torch relay, with people of any nationality welcome to apply.

To be eligible to take part in the relay, which will start on March 26, 2020, runners must be of junior high school age or older as of April next year, and have some connection with the prefecture in which they wish to run. Each person will run for about 200 meters, and participation fee is free.

Four Olympic sponsors will seek individual applications from those who want to become torchbearers, together with organizing committees in each of Japan's 47 prefectures. Coca-Cola Japan Co. will open its application process on June 17, followed by Toyota Motor Corp., Nippon Life Insurance Co. and Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. on June 24. The prefectural organizing committees will open applications on July 1. People will have until the end of August to apply, and selected runners will be announced in December or later.

Those who wish to run will be able to apply once with each sponsor and once with one of the prefectural organizing committees for a maximum total of five applications, but will not be allowed to run more than once if they are selected. Detailed application methods will be announced by each of the parties soon.

Support for the recovery of areas hit by the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, tsunamis and the Fukushima nuclear disaster, as well as local community activities will be taken into consideration in runner selection. National Diet members, local government heads and assembly members will be ineligible, and applications made with the aim of delivering political or religious messages will not be accepted.

Runners under the age of 18 will require the accompaniment of a guardian. If it is difficult for a person to run by themselves, they will be allowed one helper.

About 10,000 people are planned to run in the torch relay, but it will include an allocation for recommended runners, and the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee has not announced how many runners will be publicly sought in total.

(Japanese original by Akira Matsumoto, Sports News Department)

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