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Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Lit in Ancient Olympia

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic torch was lit on Thursday while spectators were banned from attending the ceremony amid unprecedented precautionary measures, as Greece has registered its first death from the coronavirus.

The ceremony has become the first since 1984 held without spectators as only a few dozen accredited officials were allowed to watch the torch lighting.

On 19 March, the flame will be handed over to the Tokyo 2020 organising committee at a stadium in Athens, and then the Olympic torch relay will be held throughout Greece for eight days.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said earlier that it was determined to successfully host the Tokyo Olympics, scheduled to take place from 24 July to 9 August. The organising committee of the Tokyo Olympics announced in February the creation of a special working group to monitor the deadly Wuhan coronavirus.

"Nineteen weeks before the opening ceremony of the games we are strengthened in our commitment by many ... organisations around the world taking significant measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus," IOC President Thomas Bach said.

Earlier in the day, the Greek Health Ministry reported the first fatal case caused by the coronavirus disease in the country.

The total number of COVID-19 cases in Greece currently stands at 99. The victim was the only one seriously ill among all the patients. He was placed in the intensive care unit of a hospital and died early on Thursday, according to the broadcaster.

The number of COVID-19 cases worldwide has surpassed 126,000, with over 4,600 fatalities. About 68,000 people have recovered.

Many international events and meetings have already been cancelled to prevent COVID-19 further spread.

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