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Paris Olympics 2024

Paris Olympics 2024: Olympic torch lit in Greece's ancient Olympia [Watch Video]

Published at :April 16, 2024 at 7:17 PM
Modified at :April 16, 2024 at 7:17 PM
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(Courtesy : AP)

Ajay Gandhar

Traditional ceremony kicks off Torch Relay’s Journey to the French Capital.

The Olympic flame that will burn at the 2024 Paris Olympics was ignited Tuesday in the hallowed birthplace of the ancient Games, beginning its Greek relay before heading to the French capital.

In a solemn ceremony steeped in tradition, an actress playing the role of a high priestess used a concave mirror to focus the sun’s rays and light the torch, marking the opening act of the biggest sporting spectacle in the world.

As a light wind whipped smoke across the archaeological ruins of Ancient Olympia on an overcast day, the flame was passed to the first relay runner – Greek rower and Tokyo 2020 gold medalist Stefanos Douskos. He will be followed over the next 11 days by 600 torchbearers carrying the flame across Greece on a 5,000 kilometer (3,100 mile) journey.

“This is an important moment of unity for the world,” said International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, one of the dignitaries in attendance. “In a world of conflict, division and war, the Olympic Games are a force for peace.”

After traversing Greece, the flame will be handed over to Paris organizers on April 27 at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens. From there, it will embark on the next leg of its journey by sailing aboard the historic three-masted French ship Belem across the Mediterranean to Marseille, where it arrives May 8.

The flame’s arrival in France will kick off a massive 69-day relay across the host country, with 10,000 torchbearers carrying it on a winding 12,000 km (7,500 mile) journey to over 60 territories – including mainland France and overseas French departments. It will make stops at dozens of landmarks and tourist sites before its final destination at the Paris opening ceremony on July 26.

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The Olympic flame has represented a symbolic link between the ancient and modern Games ever since the 1936 Berlin Olympics revived the ritual from antiquity. For over a millennium starting in 776 BC, a sacred flame burned at Ancient Olympia to honor the Greek gods during the original Olympic festivals held every four years.

After a two-year delay caused by the pandemic, the Paris organizers are eager to kick their Olympic plans into their final high gear. The flame’s lighting represents the traditional start of the final countdown for the host country as it puts the finishing touches on years of preparations for the world’s biggest sporting event.

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