Paris Olympics: The Olympic flame will be lit today

English Section / 16 aprilie

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The Olympic flame will be lit today at the ancient site of Olympia in Greece in the presence of IOC President Thomas Bach, almost 100 days before the opening ceremony of the 2024 Summer Olympics, before a vast journey that will take it from Acropolis in Paris. After two editions disrupted by the restrictions related to the Covid-19 pandemic, in 2020 and 2021, for the Olympic Games in Tokyo (summer) and Beijing (winter), the traditional ceremony in the cradle of Olympism will regain all its pomp, with many people expected at the event officials. In the sanctuary of Olympia, in front of the 2,600-year-old ruins of the temple of Hera, the "high priestess", dressed in a dress similar to those of antiquity, must light the Olympic flame in front of about 600 guests, including the leader of the Olympic movement . This ritual in such a place is done "with great humility", explained Nikos Aliagas, who will play the role of host. "Symbols are important in Greece. We are (...) in the universal, because we wear something that does not belong to us, which is a heritage," Aliagas added, stating that he aimed to be "an intermediary" between Greece and France. The entire sanctuary at Olympia, devastated throughout history by earthquakes and floods, was dedicated to Zeus, and the Games were intended to pay homage to him. On the spot was a statue of the "god of gods", now lost, considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The choreography of today's ceremony, also inspired by ancient Greece, was entrusted to the artist Artemis Ignatiou, and the American mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato will perform the Olympic anthem. As happens every two years, the ceremony will take place near the stadium where the young athletes of antiquity contested their first Games, in the 7th century before Christ. At that time, women were forbidden to participate and it remained so until the abolition of the ancient Games, in the year 393 AD. The flame ignition system involves the use of the sun and a parabolic cylindrical mirror, a process already known to the ancient Greeks: the sun's rays reflecting in the container release an intense heat that allows a flame to be obtained. The "high priestess", the Greek actress Mary Mina, will then be able to raise the torch, which will be handed to its first bearer, Stefanos Ntouskos, Olympic rowing champion at the Tokyo Olympics. French swimmer Laure Manaudou, who won her first Olympic title in Athens in 2004 in the 400m freestyle, is expected to take over from Ntouskos and be France's first Olympic flame bearer. The flame will then begin a 5,000 km journey across Greece for 11 days, from the island of Corfu in the Ionian Sea to the island of Santorini in the Cyclades, via Kastellorizo, in the southeast of the country. The flame will also climb the Acropolis rock to spend a night near the Parthenon that dominates the Greek capital. The flame will then be passed to the French organizers on April 26 at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens, the site of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896. In Piraeus, the large port south of Athens, the flame will embark on Belem, a three-masted vessel, to travel to the host country of the 2024 Olympics, being expected in Marseille, in the south-east of France, on May 8.

The symbol of the Olympic Games will then travel across France, passing through the Antilles and French Polynesia, to arrive in Paris on the day of the opening ceremony, July 26.