Japanese queue as they try to watch the Olympic cauldron in Miyagi in this photo taken by Kyodo. Reuters
Tens of thousands of people flocked to a cauldron with the Olympic flame in northeastern Japan over the weekend despite concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.
The flame arrived in Japan to a scaled-down welcoming ceremony on Friday as doubts grew over whether the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will go ahead on schedule as the deadly virus causes chaos around the world.
The pandemic has already shredded the global sports calendar, with top sports leagues suspended and major tournaments postponed.
More than 50,000 people on Saturday queued to watch the flame displayed at Sendai station in Miyagi, chosen as part of the "Recovery Olympics" to showcase the region's revival after the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown.
Some had to stay in a 500-metre (1,650-foot) queue for several hours, local media said.
Many of them wore masks as they took pictures with the cherry blossom-shaped cauldron.
gui"I queued for three hours but watching the Olympic flame was greatly encouraging," a 70-year-old woman told public broadcaster NHK.
But organisers, concerned about the bigger-than-expected gathering, have warned the viewing event could be suspended if a crowd becomes "extremely dense", local media reported.
The nationwide torch relay begins on March 26, starting from the J-Village sports complex in Fukushima that was used as a base for workers during the 2011 nuclear disaster.
But organisers have been forced to scale back the relay, closing daily ceremonies to the public and urging spectators to "avoid forming crowds" along the route.
The Japanese authorities arrested the unemployed Kayoko Takahashi, 53, last Sunday, on charges of obstructing work by force, after the start of the torch marathon in Mito.
The Abes' success gave Japan its third and fourth gold medal of the day after Yuto Horigome took skateboarding's first Olympic title and swimmer Yui Ohashi was the surprise winner of the women's 400m individual competition.
“There was one person in the Village. That was the very first case in the Village that was reported during the screening test,” Masa Takaya, spokesman for the Tokyo organising committee, told a press conference.
Early voting on whether to recognise Indigenous Australians in the constitution and create a "Voice to Parliament" to give them an avenue to advise the government on matters affecting First Nations Australians began on Monday.
The client reportedly obtained financing for investment certificates and agreed to pay it in monthly installments. He also obtained a credit card with a monthly salary guarantee, but he did not commit to repaying it.
Koinu is expected to make landfall on Taiwan's southeastern coast near the city of Taitung on Thursday morning as a category three typhoon, but then weaken as it crosses the island's southern tip and enters the Taiwan Strait, according to Tropical Storm Risk.
While it is customary in the Pacific Coast city for people to stop on the left side of escalators and keeping the right open for those in a hurry, there have been instances of several people losing their balance and knocking others off as well.