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Olympic torch audience asked to applaud rather than cheer passing runners

People who turn out to catch a glimpse of the Olympic torch after it begins its journey through Japan at the end of the next month will be asked to applaud, rather than cheer passing runners, and the event could be suspended if crowds lining the relay route grow too large.

The unusual provisions for the relay – the main precursor to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics – are another sign of the difficulties organisers are facing as they attempt to carry off an event involving tens of thousands of athletes, officials and journalists in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Tokyo Games organising committee said it would livestream the relay, due to begin in Fukushima on 25 March, to encourage people to watch it at home.

About 10,000 torchbearers will carry the prestigious symbol of the Games through Japan’s 47 prefectures, culminating in its arrival at the Olympic stadium on 23 July. One prefecture recently said it was reconsidering its involvement due to concerns over the virus.

“No shouting, no cheering. Please cheer by clapping your hands, and maintain an appropriate distance in case there is overcrowding,” Yukihiko Nunomura, the vice director general of the organising committee, told a media briefing on Thursday.

The rules were part of a series of measures for torchbearers and and other participants unveiled on the same day.

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Ikea’s UK business dived nearly £33m into the red last year after it was forced to close stores for nearly three months during the pandemic.

The world’s largest furniture retailer said UK sales fell more than 10% to £1.9bn in the year to 31 August, even though online sales increased by nearly a third.

Ikea admitted that it had struggled to meet demand for home deliveries despite turning stores into distribution centres for online orders during the high street lockdowns:


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