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World's oldest woman, 118, to withdraw from Tokyo Olympic torch relay

Kane Tanaka (Photo courtesy of the Fukuoka Prefectural Government)

FUKUOKA -- Kane Tanaka, a 118-year-old woman from this southwest Japan city who has been certified by Guinness World Records as the world's oldest living person, will give up her position in the Olympic torch relay, it has been learned.

    Her relatives made the decision in response to the spread of the coronavirus, and the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games will be formally notified as early as April 27.

    According to her great-granddaughter Junko Tanaka, 24, who lives in Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture, and others, Kane was scheduled to participate in the May 11 leg of the torch relay in Shime, Fukuoka Prefecture, in a wheelchair pushed by her relatives. Although Kane is healthy and has a good appetite, they decided not to have her participate because coronavirus infections have spread again in the prefecture and she would have needed to be quarantined for two weeks after the event at the elderly care facility where she lives.

    Junko said, "It's unfortunate, because I wanted people to feel hope in the sight of her cheerfully carrying the torch."

    Kane was recommended to take part by the games sponsor, Nippon Life Insurance Co., and her relatives readily agreed. If she had joined the relay, she would have been the oldest participant in the history of Olympic torch relays.

    (Japanese original by Yusaku Yoshikawa, Kyushu News Department)

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