Greece hands over Olympic flame to Tokyo 2020 organisers in 'significantly scaled down' event

Athens [Greece], Mar 19 (ANI): Greece handed over the Olympic flame to Tokyo 2020 organisers on Thursday at an event which was 'significantly scaled-down' due to coronavirus pandemic.

The ceremony, which took place at Athens' iconic Panathenaic stadium, did not include the planned cultural ceremonies from Greece or Japan.

Hellenic Olympic Committee President Spyros Capralos handed the torch over to the Tokyo Organising committee represented by Naoko Imoto, who lit the lantern and left with it.

"We bid farewell to this great Olympic symbol, which brings together humanity, antiquity and modern times. I wish to believe that the journey of the Olympic flame in your country will offer joy and hope to the people of the whole world, who are currently in pain and challenged," the Olympic's official website quoted Capralos as saying.

The Tokyo Olympic games are slated to be held from July 24 to August 9. However, many athletes raised concern over the quadrennial event taking place despite the spread of the deadly virus.

Earlier on Wednesday, four-time Olympic rowing champion Matthew Pinsent suggested that the Tokyo Olympics should be called off due to the coronavirus outbreak.

"I am sorry Mr Bach but this is tone-deaf. The instinct to keep safe (not to mention obey government instructions to lockdown) is not compatible with athlete training, travel and focus that a looming Olympics demands of athletes, spectators and organisers. Keep them safe. Call it off," Pinsent tweeted. (ANI)