Paris 2024 Olympics torch lit in ancient Olympia

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.”