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Fireworks fly during the opening ceremonies of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.

2020 Olympic Flame Lit, 1st Leg of Greek Relay Canceled

Gettyimages | Pascal Le Segretain
By Alyssa McCraw

The sports world is shutting down, the entertainment world is shutting down, and basically, the entire WORLD is shutting down. Isn't it a bit ironic that - of all things - the Olympics haven't called it quits yet?

The 2020 summer games aren't set to have their Opening Ceremony until July 24th - but, per tradition, the world famous torch is lit months in advance in a ceremony of its own. One would would think things would have been pushed back due to the global coronavirus pandemic, but that was simply not the case on March 12th.

The Olympic Flame being passed on during the its lighting ceremony in Ancient Olympia, Greece - March 12, 2020.
Gettyimages | Milos Bicanski

Although held "behind closed doors," the Olympic Flame was lit on Thursday in Ancient Olympia, Greece. Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) delivered a moving address despite the current circumstances across the world.

“This ceremony demonstrates once more our commitment to the success of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. Nineteen weeks before the Opening Ceremony, we are strengthened in this commitment by the many authorities and sports organizations around the world which are taking so many significant measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus."

So, what's happens after the flame starts burning?

The official aircraft set to carry to Olympic torch, reading "TOKYO 2020" across the body.
Gettyimages | David Madison

The torch is then taken on a week-long relay across Greece, the sacred spot of Olympic origin, before being transferred to the host country - in this case, Japan - during a handover ceremony. But, how does it get to Tokyo?

By plane.

While burning.

In their October 2019 statement, the IOC described that "a special aircraft bearing the name 'TOKYO 2020 Go' will then transport the Olympic flame to Japan, landing at JASDF Matsushima Air Base in Miyagi prefecture, where local children will escort the flame onto a stage."

Japan arriving at the 2016 Rio Olympics' Opening Ceremonies - Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.
Gettyimages | Cameron Spencer

Earlier today, after two days of successful relaying in Greece, the highly anticipated celebration was put to a stop.

"We fully understand the decision taken by the Hellenic Olympic Committee (HOC) in association with the Greek Ministry of Health to cancel the Greek leg of the Olympic Torch Relay," the IOC wrote on March 13th. "The handover of the Olympic Flame will happen as scheduled on 19 March 2020. The International Olympic Committee confirms its full commitment to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020."

A passerby wears a surgical mask in front of the Olympics rings.
Gettyimages | Tomohiro Ohsumi

To clear up who each of these organizations are: The HOC is the governing body of the Olympics in the country of Greece - it's the equivalent of our "Team USA" here in the States. Each competing country generally has a governing body, but independent athletes may qualify in some sports. The politics get real tricky - the point here is that the IOC oversees all of the HOCs and Team USAs of the world.

A representative of the IOC recently told the Associated Press that he is encouraging athletes to "keep focused on [their] sport."

"As far as we all know, you're going to be in Tokyo."

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