A woman has tried to extinguish the Olympic torch with a water pistol in protest over the decision to go ahead with the Games despite Covid-19 risks.
Kayoko Takahashi, 53, was arrested for forcible obstruction of business after firing liquid at the torch in the city of Mito.
The moment happened at around 7:40 p.m. on Sunday as the final runner of a relay made his way around the city’s Senba Park and headed for the finish line.
Takahashi, an unemployed woman from the prefectural city of Hitachi, shouted ‘No Olympics’ and ‘Stop the Games’ before shooting her water pistol at the flame, carried by the 77-year-old runner.
The water did not appear to affect the flame and the runner was unharmed. Video showed an officer holding up a shield to block the spray while other apprehended Takahashi.
A woman has tried to extinguish the Olympic torch with a water pistol in protest over the decision to go ahead with the Games despite Covid-19 risks
Kayoko Takahashi, 53, was arrested for forcible obstruction of business after firing liquid at the torch in the city of Mito
The moment happened at around 7:40 p.m. on Sunday as the final runner of a relay made his way around the city’s Senba Park and headed for the finish line
She admitted to the offence and said she was protesting the staging of the Olympics in Tokyo later this month, police said.
They added that the torch relay was obstructed by Takahashi’s actions and she was arrested at the scene.
Police later confirmed that the runner involved in the incident was the relay’s anchor and that he was on his way to the finish line.
There were no other reported delays or protests at the event.
News of Takahashi’s arrest came as a Japanese media reported that the Games’ opening ceremony will be open to VIPs only with no other spectators allowed because of rising coronavirus cases.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) representatives, foreign dignitaries and sponsors will be allowed into the National Stadium to watch the July 23 ceremony, according to Asahi Shimbun newspaper.
But fans will be locked out because there are growing concerns over rising coronavirus cases in the Japanese capital. The seven day average in Tokyo is at around 580 Covid cases per day – a 92 per cent increase on mid-June.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) representatives, foreign dignitaries, sponsors and others connected to the Games will be allowed into the National Stadium (pictured) to watch the July 23 ceremony
Domestic opinion is largely against the Games, which have already been postponed for a year due to the pandemic.
Organisers are working to whittle down the expected 10,000 ‘Olympic family’ members to a level the Japanese public would find acceptable, the report said.
‘Some people in government are concerned that the public won’t accept them being given special treatment,’ it said.
‘They’d like the number of people attending to be reduced to the hundreds.’
Games organisers last month set a limit of 10,000 domestic fans, or half of each venue’s capacity. Overseas fans have already been barred.
But a rise in infections has forced a rethink, with Games president Seiko Hashimoto recently warning that a closed-door Olympics remains an option.
The government is this week expected to extend anti-virus measures in Tokyo and elsewhere, with a decision on Olympic fans to follow.
Organisers were considering banning spectators from events in larger venues and in the evening, said the newspaper.
Members of the U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team practice at a training center, ahead of the Tokyo Olympics
The announcement of the results of a ticket lottery for oversubscribed events has been pushed back to Saturday – less than two weeks before the opening ceremony.
Japan’s Covid-19 outbreak has not been as severe as in many countries, with around 14,800 deaths, but experts say another wave could stretch medical services as the Olympics begin.
The Olympic torch is due to arrive in Tokyo on Friday, but there will be no relay on public roads in the capital this weekend, organisers said, with short fan-free ceremonies planned instead.
Several legs of the torch relay, which began in March, have been completed away from public roads to prevent crowds from gathering.