Germany’s Hartung: scrapping Tokyo torch relay would be strong signal

German athletes spokesman Max Hartung said on Sunday that cancelling the Tokyo Olympics torch relay would have sent a strong signal amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The Olympic flame arrived in Japan on Friday and the torch relay is to commence Thursday around the host country, culminating in the July 24 lighting of the cauldron at the opening ceremony.

“Cancelling the torch relay could have been a signal that you are siding with the people in the times of the pandemic,” Hartung told dpa.

Organizers want to stage the relay although various festivities around it have been cancelled and onlookers are to keep a safe distance.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is continuing with Games preparations despite growing calls from athletes, sports federations and national Olympic committees to postpone them.

Hartung, a 30-year-old fencer who heads the Athletes Germany group, for his part said late Saturday he would not compete in Tokyo.

The four-time European champion is qualified for the Games but said he had to lead by example and is also in self isolation to do his share help stop the disease from spreading.

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