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Olympic Torch Relay reduced to staged event Sunday amid COVID concerns


TOKYO, Japan (NBC) -The Olympic Torch Relay was again reduced to a staged ceremony Sunday, with torchbearers passing the Olympic flame with a torch “kiss” in front of a small gathering of spectators on a blazing hot day in the Japanese capital.

After weeks of winding through every prefecture in Japan, the Torch Relay and the Olympic flame will travel to different parts of Tokyo until the Olympic Games officially open on Friday.

Earlier Sunday, South Africa confirmed three positive COVID-19 cases in their soccer squad for the games, as well as Sevens rugby coach Neil Powell.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics, postponed for a year due to the global pandemic, is being held mostly without spectators and under tight quarantine rules.

Japan’s public has been lukewarm about the games amid a resurgence in new coronavirus infections and worries that an influx of foreign visitors may help turn the games into a super-spreader event, adding further strain on the country’s already stretched medical system.

Around 20 protesters calling for the cancellation of the Olympics also demonstrated outside a venue where International Olympics President Thomas Bach attended a welcome banquet

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