Olympic plane leaves to collect Olympic flame

The latest sign Japan is pressing ahead with preparations for this summers Olympic Games took to the skies on Wednesday (March 18) as a plane sporting Tokyo 2020 livery left to collect the Olympic flame from Athens.

However, games hosts chose not to send the high-level delegation on board to Greece, due to the coronavirus.

Instead Japan's ambassador to Greece will receive the flame at a handover ceremony, and lower-level officials already there will accompany the flame back to Japan.

Sporting events are being canceled across the world in response to the coronavirus outbreak, but the Japanese government's top spokesman spoke of the country's resolve to host the event as scheduled.

(SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) JAPANESE CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY, YOSHIHIDE SUGA, SAYING:

"According to the statement released by the IOC yesterday, we understand that they again expressed their determination to work their very best for the Tokyo 2020 Games."

Despite one International Olympic Committee member calling the situation "irresponsible," the organization's official position remains that the games will start as planned on July 24.