The prevailing COVID-19 pandemic has forced Japan to change the torch relay route of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

More than half of Japan’s local governments, including Tokyo Metropolis, cancelled torch relay on roads or cut down the relay distance.

Tokyo Metropolitan Government on Friday announced to scrap road relay in the urban area, replacing it with indoor ceremony.

For those regions sticking to original plan, spectators are required to wear masks and keep social distance. Instead of acclaiming during the torch relay, spectators are required to clapping hands only to greet the torch carrier.

Japanese people showed their understanding of such changes, saying all measures are to make sure a smooth torch relay.

“To ensure an orderly torch relay, we should all observe the epidemic control measures. The relay needs joint efforts from all,” said a resident.

“The athletes have trained hard for five years for these Olympics. We hope the Tokyo Olympics would be held as planned. We are all looking forward to it,” said another resident.

The torch relay started on March 25 in Fukushima with the slogan of “Connecting with Hope.” It is planned to walk through Japan’s all 47 prefectures.

Despite all precautionary measures, 11 staff members from four prefectures have been confirmed to contract COVID-19.

Tokyo Metropolis has officially entered the fourth round of the state of emergency and it is scheduled to last until August 22, meaning that the opening ceremony on July 23 for the Olympic Games will be within the period of the state of emergency.