210325 Olympic torch
The torch is lit by a member of Japan's women's national football team "Nadeshiko Japan" during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay Grand Start in Naraha, Fukushima prefecture, northeastern Japan, Thursday, March 25, 2021. Image Credit: AP

Fukushima: The Tokyo Olympics torch relay kicked off Thursday, a year late and without spectators, heralding a major step towards the start of the coronavirus-delayed Games on July 23.

“This little flame never lost hope and it waited for this day like a cherry blossom bud just about to bloom,” Tokyo 2020 chief Seiko Hashimoto told officials and media in Fukushima, where the relay began.