Tokyo Olympics Officially Start Big Event

The countdown to the Tokyo Summer Olympics had begun. On Thursday, the torch relay for the Olympic games started its 121-day across Japan. This comes four months before the start of the Games, which begin on July 23.

The relay started at Japan's Fukushima prefecture. According to The Washington Post, the area has been ravaged by the 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown. The first torchbearers were the winning team from the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup, bringing out the from the J-Village indoor soccer training center.

"The torch of Tokyo 2020 will become a bright light for hope for Japanese citizens and citizens in the world and a light at the end of the tunnel," Tokyo 2020 president Seiko Hashimoto said at the ceremony, which was closed to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic per PEOPLE. The relay will continue to travel through 47 Japanese prefectures. Spectators who want to watch the torch race across the country will be required to social distance, wear masks and cheer quietly.

The torch relay comes after officials announced overseas spectators will not be allowed to watch the Olympic Games amid the pandemic. Due to the new COVID-19 variants, and restrictions on international travel, officials said that allowing overseas spectators "will further contribute to ensure safe and secure Games for all participants and the Japanese public."

"We share the disappointment of all enthusiastic Olympic fans from around the world, and of course the families and friends of the athletes, who were planning to come to the Games," IOC President Thomas Bach said in a press release. "For this I am truly sorry. We know that this is a great sacrifice for everybody. We have said from the very beginning of this pandemic that it will require sacrifices."