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27 May, 2024
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Olympic flame ignited in Ancient Olympia for Paris 2024 Games

Greek and French torch relays commence in spectacular ceremony


The anticipation for the Paris 2024 Olympics reached a crescendo on Monday as the Olympic flame was lit in a captivating dress rehearsal in ancient Olympia. A Greek actress, embodying the role of the high priestess, utilized a parabolic mirror and the sun's radiant beams to ignite the torch, setting the stage for Tuesday's official ceremony.

In a tradition steeped in history, Tuesday's event at the birthplace of the Olympic Games in ancient Greece will mark the commencement of a torch relay spanning both Greece and France, culminating in the grand opening of the Games on July 26 in Paris.

Under the warm gaze of the sun and largely clear skies, the flame is set to be kindled in the presence of distinguished figures including Greece’s President of the Republic, Katerina Sakellaropoulou, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, and leadership from the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Despite the reliance on sunshine for the ceremony, contingency plans are in place in case of cloud cover. A flame lit during the rehearsal stands ready to step in should weather conditions obscure the use of the mirror to ignite the torch.

Following the ceremonial lighting, actress Mary Mina, portraying the High Priestess, will pass the flame to Olympic rowing champion Stefanos Ntouskos, marking the commencement of an 11-day Greek relay. The journey will traverse 13 regions, seven islands, 43 cities, and various other landmarks across Greece, showcasing the torch's symbolic journey.

On April 26, the flame will transition to Paris Games organizers in Athens before embarking on its voyage to France aboard the historic three-masted ship, the ‘Belem’. Marseille, a city with deep ties to Greek history, will welcome the flame on May 8, heralding the beginning of the French leg of the relay.

As Marseille prepares to host the sailing competitions, up to 150,000 spectators are expected to gather in the city’s Old Port to witness the flame's arrival, igniting the spirit of the Games across France. The French torch relay, spanning 68 days, will culminate in the grand illumination of the Olympic flame at the opening ceremony, signaling the commencement of the Paris 2024 Olympics.

[With information from Kathimerini Greece, Reuters]

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