World’s oldest person pulls out of torch relay for Tokyo Olympics

The world’s oldest person, a 118-year-old Japanese woman, has decided not to take part in the torch relay for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics because of concerns about the coronavirus, an official at her nursing home said on Wednesday, casting more shadows over an event, which is already facing significant hurdles including a possible lockdown extension.

Kane Tanaka, who is named in the Guinness World Records, was slated to be one of the relay participants in Fukuoka in southern Japan, which will start on May 11, the official said.

“We received an email from her family which said she wanted to withdraw from the relay as she and her family were concerned about spreading the virus at the nursing home,” they said.

The Olympic torch relay, which kicked off in March, has been undermined by the surge in coronavirus in Japan, which has led to restrictions being imposed in main cities including Tokyo and Osaka.

Six people who helped with the torch relay were diagnosed with COVID-19, the Tokyo 2020 organisers said on Sunday, bringing the total number of cases involved in the event to eight.

Some celebrities who were due to take part have withdrawn from the relay due to safety reasons.

The government is considering an extension to the state of emergency measures first announced last month, the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper reported on Wednesday.

According to the report, officials were leaning towards an extension of the measures in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo prefectures beyond May 11.