Paris 2024 Olympics torch lit in ancient Olympia

Ancient Olympia, Greece.-  The Olympic torch embarked on Tuesday on its grand journey from Ancient Olympia, after the conclusion of the flame lighting ceremony, for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

The ceremony (hosted by Nikos Aliagas), inspired by antiquity, took place, in the presence of the President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou, in Ancient Olympia, according to the traditional ritual. Following the previous toned-down events for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and 2022 Beijing Winter Games, due to the restrictions associated with the Covid-19 pandemic, the ceremony is again open to the public.

Greek actress Mary Mina, playing the role of high priestess, lit the torch using a backup flame instead of a parabolic mirror due to cloudy skies, for the start of a relay in Greece and France that will culminate with the lighting of the Olympic flame in the French capital at the opening ceremony.

President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou arrived accompanied by International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach and European Olympic Committees (EOC) president Spyros Capralos, and immediately after leading mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato performed the Olympic Anthem, followed by the raising of the French and Greek flags, and the national anthems.

The choreography was inspired and directed by the choreographer Artemis Ignatiou to music composed by Dimitris Papadimitriou and performed by 35 priestesses and 15 kouroi. The costumes for the performers were created by the internationally renowned designer Mary Katrantzou.

The Olympic torch was handed over to Olympic rowing champion Stefanos Ntouskos by priestess Mary Mina and began the torch relay on Greek soil, which will last for 11 days until April 26. It will then depart for France and it is expected to arrive in Marseille on May 8.

Thomas Bach: The Olympic flame is the symbol of hope

“In these difficult times we are living through, with wars and conflicts on the rise, people are fed up with all the hate, the aggression and negative news,” IOC president Thomas Bach said and added:

“We are longing for something which brings us together, something that is unifying, something that gives us hope. The Olympic flame that we are lighting today is the symbol of this hope.”

Tony Estanget: The Olympic Games are a source of inspiration for us and the future generations

On his part, the president of the organizing committee of the Paris Olympic Games, Tony Estanget, stated: “In these Olympic Games we see more than ever a source of inspiration for all of us and for future generations, while the world is shaken by crises.”

Spyros Kapralos: The message of peace needs to be spread throughout the world 

The President of the Hellenic Olympic Committee, President of the European Olympic Committees and Member of the International Olympic Committee, Spyros Kapralos, sent a message of truce in his speech on Tuesday during the torch lighting ceremony held in Ancient Olympia for the Paris Olympic Games.
“In a traditional ceremony full of symbolism and universal messages, the long-awaited journey of the Olympic values around the world has started. A journey in which everyone can participate. Wherever they are, wherever they come from and whatever they stand for,” he said and added:
“Because the Olympic Games are the only institution in the history of humanity that has remained unchanged for centuries and succeeds in uniting, empowering and transforming nations, people and consciousness. And changes the world. And I will repeat it. It was born here. In Greece. After all, the word athlete is also Greek, it comes from the word ‘athlos’, which means fight, and today it has been incorporated into all the languages of the world.
The Olympic Flame will therefore begin its journey to Paris, for the first Olympic Games in Europe after 12 years, and 20 years after the Olympic Games in Athens, transmitting the vision of peace and respect, and inviting all nations to implement the Olympic Truce. And this very message needs to be spread throughout the world which is currently suffering from turmoil, wars and rivalries.
Such moments we all have to make a pause and reflect the real values. Change and start again.”

The journey of the Olympic torch
The torch will embark on a 5,000km journey across Greece in 11 days, from the island of Corfu, in the Ionian Sea, to Santorini in the Cyclades and, via Kastellorizo, in the south-east of the country.
It will be handed over to the French organizers on April 26 at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens, the site where the first modern Olympic Games were held in 1896. It will be kept in the French Embassy and depart the following day (April 27) for France.
In Piraeus, the major port south of Athens, the torch will board the “Belem”, a historic 127-year-old three-masted sailing ship of the French merchant navy, with square sails and a steel hull, dating from the 19th century and still in service today, in order to arrive at Marseilles, southeastern France, on May 8.
The Olympic torch will cross Marseille from Notre Dame de la Garde, the Basilica that overlooks Marseille and is the most famous symbol of the city, to the Velodrome stadium on Thursday, May 9.
The symbol of the Olympic Games will then begin its journey and cross the whole country, also passing through the Antilles and French Polynesia, to reach Paris for the opening ceremony.
The Olympic Flame will remain at the Paris City Hall on the evening of July 14, when France celebrates Bastille Day ahead of the 2024 Olympics, Mayor Anne Hidalgo has announced.
It will “travel” across Paris on July 14-15, then the greater French capital region and return to the capital for the opening ceremony on July 26, completing a 68-day torch relay in the host country of the Games.
Throughout its journey, it will be carried by approximately 10,000 torchbearers. The Olympic Flame that burned throughout the Games in ancient times represented the ideals of peace and unity among peoples.