BY DAN PALMER.
Tokyo 2020 organisers have announced that 535,717 applications have been made from members of the public hoping to carry the Olympic flame in the Torch Relay.
The figure was announced at the close of the registration process which opened in June.
Coca-Cola, Toyota, Nippon Life and NTT Communications – the four presenting partners for the Torch Relay – made the call for applications alongside taskforces from all 47 prefectures of Japan.
Hopefuls could submit up to five applications each through the sponsors or a prefecture where they have a personal or family connection.
Organisers will now whittle down the application to around 10,000 Torchbearers.
Successful applicants will only be selected once, with men, women and children of a wide range of nationalities, ages and abilities set to take part.
Successful applicants will start to be revealed in December.
Masa Takaya, a Tokyo 2020 spokesperson, said: “We are extremely delighted by what this number indicates, the enthusiasm of those who applied.
“Some prefectures received 200 times the number of applications as there were positions available.
“The population clearly wants to be involved and to play a role in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.”
Tokyo 2020 claim that the Relay will provide an “unforgettable” experience for Torchbearers.
It will begin on March 26, 2020 with a poignant start in Fukushima, which was struck by one of the worst natural disasters ever to hit Japan in 2011.
A devastating earthquake and tsunami caused an accident at a nuclear power plant, and around 16,000 people lost their lives in the tragedy.
Both Tokyo 2020 and the International Olympic Committee are keen to use next year’s Olympics to aid the region’s recovery.
The Relay will be held under the motto “Hope Lights Our Way”.
In all it will pass through every prefecture in Japan over 121 days.
Around 98 per cent of Japan’s population are said to live within one hour’s travel of the proposed route.
The Olympic Torch will first be lit at Ancient Olympia on March 12 and will then spend a week in Greece.
It will arrive in Japan on March 20 and be displayed in the Tōhoku region, which was widely affected by the 2011 disaster.