Sapporo, Japan, February 6, 2017: The torch relay for the Olympic Council of Asia’s 8th Asian Winter Games Sapporo 2017 took place on Monday, February 6. It was also the first day of the Sapporo Snow Festival, a world-famous event, which attracts a large number of tourists from home and abroad annually.
The torch relay began at 1pm from the former Hokkaido Government Office Building following the departure ceremony. The torch travelled a total of 2,200 metres with six relays, passing through the venues of the Sapporo Snow Festival.
It ended at Sapporo City Hall where there is a cauldron from the 1972 Winter Olympics. Mai Asada, a former figure skater and the PR Ambassador for the Games, led the first group of runners as a torch bearer and added excitement to the torch relay. Thirty-five local citizens chosen from 211 public applicants joined the relay as torch bearers and runners.
The programme concluded with the arrival ceremony held at Cauldron Square in front of Sapporo City Hall. The ceremony featured Kamuinomori, a ritual of indigenous people of Hokkaido known as Ainu to pray for the success of the Games.
Reflecting the passion of athletes and locals, the Games flame marked a new chapter in the history of Sapporo and Hokkaido where the city and nature coexist. Moreover, it will serve as a symbol of the potential that Asia creates by sharing winter aspiration with the rest of the world.
The Games flame was divided to be displayed at the City Hall of both Sapporo and co-host city Obihiro, the Hokkaido Government and 10 ward offices in Sapporo from February 7-17. The divided flames will be gathered again and arrive at Sapporo Dome, the Opening Ceremony venue, on February 19.
The Games flame will be relayed by Olympians and Paralympians, and finally the Games cauldron will be ignited at the Opening Ceremony.
The OCA’s 8th AWG will run from February 19-26, with five sports, 11 disciplines and 64 events at Sapporo and Obihiro (speed skating).