Osaka requests cancellation of torch relay leg

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FILE PHOTO: Second day of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic torch relay in Fukushima prefecture, Japan

TOKYO (Reuters) - Authorities in Japan's Osaka, who have repeatedly said they want to cancel one leg of the Olympic torch relay, formally requested that the route through the western city be cancelled, a Tokyo 2020 organising spokesperson said on Monday.

The relay, due to reach Osaka in mid-April, is seen as the first major test of Games organisers' abilities to hold a large event under strict coronavirus curbs. It features 10,000 runners carrying the torch through all Japan's 47 prefectures.

The western metropolis of Osaka is grappling with a spike in coronavirus cases and the governor of Osaka prefecture has called for cancelling the leg that takes place in the city.

The head of the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, Seiko Hashimoto, said on Friday she wanted to seek an early decision on the relay, and a Tokyo 2020 spokesperson said they were looking into the situation and hoped to reach a decision soon.

Organisers require roadside spectators to wear masks, practise social distancing and not cheer out loud to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. There have been no reports so far of infections arising from the relay, which began on March 25.

(Reporting by Elaine Lies, editing by Ed Osmond)