Spectators gathering for the Olympic torch relay in Japan this year are being asked to wear masks, practice social distancing and cheer quietly as the country works to prevent any further outbreak of the coronavirus. 

The relay, which begins next week, is seen as the first major test of Japan’s ability to hold the Games, scheduled to begin in July, without contributing to an international outbreak of coronavirus cases. 

A primary objective of the relay this year, organizers said, is increasing public confidence in health measures and the International Olympic Committee’s ability to keep athletes, spectators and the local community in Tokyo safe. 

The objective of the Olympic torch relay is to enhance the enthusiasm, Toshiro Muto, the CEO of the organizing committee in charge of the relay, said, according to The Associated Press. We need to balance things out between bringing enthusiasm and preventing COVID-19 infection.

Relay planners are asking onlookers to social distance, wear masks, and cheer quietly during the race. No fans will be allowed at the “Grand Start ceremony, the AP noted. 

The Tokyo Games will bring thousands of athletes, coaches and fans to a country that has reported more than 8,000 coronavirus deaths. 

This is going to be a long relay, and as we may find the necessity to change the rules of operation around the pandemic, or as the local conditions change, Hidemasa Nakamura, an organizing committee official said, according to the AP. Masks and quiet cheering is the standard.