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Olympic Flame Is Lit In Greece, Kicking Off Relay To Paris



International Olympic Committee
The Olympic flame was lit at the Greek site of the ancient Games on Tuesday, kicking off a relay to Paris for the 2024 Summer Olympics.
Onlookers gathered to witness the ceremony in Olympia in southern Greece, amid the ruins of the ancient sporting grounds where the first Olympics were held from 776 B.C. to A.D. 393, in which performers dressed as ancient priestesses in pleated gowns and lit the flame.
The torch is traditionally lit with the power of the sun, or the god Apollo according to the ancients, using a parabolic mirror, but cloudy skies on Tuesday required the use of a backup flame, lit the day before and held in a replica ancient Greek pot.
The Olympic Games are the only event that brings the entire world together in peaceful competition. The Olympic athletes send this powerful message: yes, it is possible to compete fiercely against each other and at the same time live peacefully together under one roof. The athletes will shine and show us what greatness humans are capable of with all their excellence, determination and resilience, Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, said in a speech at the event.
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 they are facing day in and day out. In their hearts – in all our hearts – we are longing for something which brings us together, Bach said. We are longing for something that is unifying. We are longing for something that gives us hope.”
Once lit, the Olympic torch is passed between some 10,000 torchbearers in a relay that will traverse more than 3,000 miles across Greece, reaching Olympic organizers in Athens on April 26, and then on to Paris.
Greek rower Stefanos Douskos, who won a gold medal at the 2021 Games in Tokyo, was the first torchbearer, running with the flame to the next torchbearer, French swimmer Laure Manaudou, who won three medals at the 2004 Games in Athens.
After reaching Athens, the flame will travel to France on the French sailing ship Belem, which was built in 1896, the year of the first modern Olympic Games.
The ship is expected to arrive in Marseilles, a port city in southern France, on May 8. The torch will pass through 65 regions in France, and will visit six French territories overseas: Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique, French Polynesia, Réunion and New Caledonia It will ultimately be relayed to Paris, where the Games will be held from Friday, July 26 to Sunday, Aug. 11.
This Olympic flame will carry this Olympic spirit from here, our ancient roots, through all of France and finally to Paris – making the City of Light shine even brighter, Bach said.
TMX contributed to this article.