Paris 2024 Olympics torch lit in ancient Olympia

The flame will be officially handed over to Paris Games organisers in Athens on April 26

By Web Desk
April 16, 2024
Greek actress Mary Mina, playing the role of High Priestess, lights the flame during the Olympic Flame lighting ceremony for the Paris 2024 Olympics. - Reuters

The Paris 2024 Olympic Games torch was lit in ancient Olympia in a traditional ceremony on Tuesday ahead of the scheduled start of the event on July 26.

The role of high priestess was played by Greek actress Mary Mina, who lit the torch using a backup flame instead of a parabolic mirror that is normally used, due to cloudy skies, for the start of a relay in Greece and France.

It will end with the lighting of the Olympic flame in Paris at the opening ceremony. 

The French capital has bagged the rights to host the summer Olympics for a third time after 1900 and 1924.

"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," International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach said in his speech.

"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."

The torch of the first runner of the relay, Greece's Olympic rowing champion Stefanos Ntouskos, was then lit by Mina.

Ntouskos then handed the flame, after a short run, to France's three-time Olympic medallist in swimming and head of Paris' Olympic torch relay, Laure Manaudou, as the representative of the host city.

The flame will be officially handed over to Paris Games organisers in Athens' Panathenaic stadium, venue of the first modern Games in 1896, on April 26 after an 11-day relay across Greece.

It will then depart the next day for France on board a three-masted ship, the ‘Belem’ where it will arrive on May 8 in Marseille, with up to 150,000 people expected to attend the ceremony in the southern city's Old Port.

Marseille, founded by the Greek settlers of Phocaea around 600 BC, will host the sailing competitions.

The French torch relay will continue for 68 days and will conclude in Paris with the lighting of the Olympic flame on July 26.

— Additional input from Reuters