Olympics: Japan's 2011 Women's World Cup winners to open Tokyo Games torch relay

Members of Japan's 2011 Women's World Cup-winning football team, (from right) head coach Norio Sasaki, Azusa Iwashimizu, Kozue Ando, and Ayumi Kaihori. PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (AP) - Members of the Japanese football team who won the Women's World Cup in 2011 will be the first to carry the torch for the Tokyo Olympics when the relay opens its Japanese leg on March 26, 2020.

The relay is to begin in J-Village in Fukushima prefecture, located about 250km north of Tokyo. The area was devastated on March 11, 2011 by an earthquake, tsunami and the subsequent meltdown of three nuclear reactors.

The organisers made the announcement on Tuesday (Dec 17) but did not say which player - or players - would be the first to carry the torch, which will go to all 47 Japanese prefectures, and 858 municipalities.

Former coach Norio Sasaki has also been asked to be part of the relay.

The torch will be carried by torch-bearers most of the way, but will call be transported by train, boat or cable car between legs.

The Games organisers and the International Olympic Committee chose to start the relay in Fukushima to show how the area is recovering from the disaster almost nine years ago.

The torch will go through much of the prefecture, although some parts are still off limits to the public.

The torch relay will take in several World Heritage Sites, including Mt Fuji and the Itsukushima shrine - known as the "Floating Shrine" - in Hiroshima prefecture.

The torch will be lit on March 12 in Greece.

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