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Public barred from 2020 Olympic flame lighting in Greece

The Greek Olympic committee says only 100 accredited guests will be allowed to attend the traditional event.

Spectators will be kept away from the Olympic flame-lighting ceremony in Ancient Olympia on Thursday because of the coronavirus.

The Greek Olympic committee says only 100 accredited guests will be allowed to attend the traditional event. A dress rehearsal on Wednesday for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic flame will also be closed to the public to comply with Greek government restrictions to prevent the spread of the virus.

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The Tokyo organizing committee says it will “reduce the size of its traveling delegation as much as possible.” Tokyo officials previously said they would not send 140 children to Greece to give the flame a send-off next week on its journey to Japan. 

The spread of the new coronavirus, which causes a disease health officials are calling COVID-19, has prompted concern among Olympic organizers. Japan's Olympic minister signaled earlier in March the possibility the games could be postponed to later this year. 

Seiko Hashimoto said in response to a question from the upper house of parliament “the IOC has the right to cancel the games only they are not held during 2020.” She said “this can be interpreted to mean the games can be postponed as long as they are held during the calendar year.”