118-year-old Kane Tanaka from Japan will no longer participate in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics torch relay due to concerns over the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Japan. Tanaka, also known as the world’s oldest living person, could have been the oldest Olympic torchbearer in history.
Tanaka’s nursing home received a message informing them that “she wanted to withdraw from the relay as she and her family were concerned about spreading the virus at the nursing home.”
Tanaka was set to be part of the event’s torch relay which already began on March 25, 2021. The event was scheduled to run for 121 days and end just in time for the Opening Ceremony of the Games on July 23, 2021.
The initial plan for Tanaka was to sit on a wheelchair pushed by her family, then walk a few steps as she neared the next participant. But now that Japan is on its fourth COVID-19 wave, she will have to pass on this “precious and rare” opportunity.
According to her family, Tanaka’s nursing home is also taking extra precautions. “The care home where Kane lives has banned visitors to prevent germs from coming inside and has so far ensured the safety of its residents.”
Tanaka is not the only participant to withdraw from the ongoing event, as many other torch relay runners have also pulled out from the event for safety reasons. In March, more than 90 out of the 10,000 participants had already withdrawn from the event.