Greece/France: Paris 2024 Games Flame To Be Lit In Ancient Olympia


(MENAFN- Nam News Network)
Greece/France: Paris 2024 Games Flame To Be Lit In Ancient Olympia Image

OLYMPIA (Greece), April 16 (NNN-AGENCIES) - The sacred flame for the Paris 2024 Olympics is to be lit Tuesday in ancient Olympia, birthplace of the ancient Games, for an epic torch relay stretching from the Acropolis to the South Pacific.

Hundreds of dignitaries and spectators are expected to attend the ritual in the small Peloponnese town in southwestern Greece where the Olympics were born in 776 BCE, and where the ceremony is held every two years for the summer and winter Olympics.

For the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic imposed toned-down events for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and 2022 Beijing Winter Games, spectators will be able to attend the torch relay events.

At a rehearsal Monday, Greek actress Mary Mina brought the Olympic flame into life with the help of a parabolic polished mirror before handing it to the first torch bearer, 2020 Olympic rowing champion Stefanos Ntouskos.

It will be used as a backup in case overcast skies forecast for Tuesday prevent the mirror from producing flame.

The ceremony will be conducted at the ruins of the 2,600-year-old Temple of Hera, with Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou and International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach heading the list of dignitaries.

French sports minister Amelie Oudea-Castera and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo will also be present.

“We hear nature, the rustling of the leaves, there is a sacred silence,” Artemis Ignatiou, the choreographer and artistic director of the Olympic flame ceremony, told state TV ERT about the ceremony's dance performance.

“There are moments when we feel as if we are hovering above the ground. It's like travelling back in time,” she said.

American mezzo soprano Joyce DiDonato is to deliver the Olympic anthem.

The torch harks back to the ancient Olympics when a sacred flame burned throughout the Games. The tradition was revived in 1936 for the Berlin Games.

Retired French swimmer Laure Manaudou, who won a gold medal in the 2004 Athens Olympics, is strongly tipped to be France's first torchbearer in Olympia, according to sources in Greece.

During the 11-day relay on Greek soil, some 600 torchbearers will carry the flame over a distance of 5,000 kilometres through 41 municipalities.

The Olympic flame will be handed over to Paris 2024 organisers in a ceremony at the all-marble Panathenaic Stadium, site of the first modern Olympic Games of 1896, on April 26.

Nana Mouskouri, the 89-year-old Greek singer with a worldwide following, has been invited to perform at the ceremony.

On April 27, the flame will begin its journey to France on board the 19th-century three-masted barque Belem, which was launched just weeks after the Athens 1896 Games.

A French historical monument, the Belem carried out trade journeys to Brazil, Guyana and the Caribbean for nearly two decades.

France's last surviving three-mast steel-hulled boat, it is expected to arrive in Marseille on May 8.

Ten thousand torchbearers will then carry the flame across 64 French territories.

It will travel through 400 towns and dozens of tourist attractions during its 12,000-kilometre journey through mainland France and overseas French territories in the Caribbean, Indian Ocean and Pacific.

On July 26 it will form the centrepiece of the Paris Olympics opening ceremony on the river Seine - the first time it has not been held in the Games' main stadium. - NNN=AGENCIES

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