The Olympic flame-lighting ceremony for the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 took place today in Ancient Olympia, Greece. It marks the start of an incredible journey that will bring the Olympic spirit to the Republic of Korea and its citizens, and inspire the entire world.
The Olympic Torch Relay starts the final countdown to one of the greatest athletic and cultural events in the world. Taking place as it does against the backdrop of Olympia, the Olympic flame-lighting ceremony serves more than any other tradition to connect the modern Games with their ancient origins and – like the messengers who proclaimed the sacred Olympic truce – the runners who carry the Olympic flame will carry the message of the Olympic values on their journey.
The world-famous Olympic flame was today lit in Olympia, Greece, marking the countdown to the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 in the Republic of Korea. President of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach was joined by other Olympic leaders to witness the traditional flame lighting ceremony. Outside the 2600 year old Temple of Hera, a ‘high priestess’ ignited the Olympic torch before handing it to first torchbearer, 24 year old cross-country skier Apostolos Angelis from Greece. He passed on the flame to Republic of Korea and former Manchester United Footballer Park Ji-sung.
“As our founder, Pierre de Coubertin, once said: ‘The Olympic Games are a pilgrimage to the past and an act of faith in the future’”, President Bach told the crowd at the ceremony.
“What better expression of this faith in the future than the presence of the President of the Hellenic Olympic Committee, together with the Presidents of the National Olympic Committees of the Republic of Korea, Japan, China, France and the United States of America”.
Over the following week the flame will travel 2129km around Greece, arriving at the Acropolis in Athens on 30 October. Some 505 torchbearers will participate and 36 welcome ceremonies will be held in 20 municipalities over the eight days. The ceremony to hand over the flame to the PyeongChang 2018 Organising Committee will be held in Athens’ Panathenaic Stadium on 31 October.
The flame will then make its way 8500km east to the Korean city of Incheon, arriving on 1 November to coincide with 100 days to go until the start of the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018. Thereafter the Olympic Torch Relay will see the flame embark on a tour of the entire host country, taking in nine provinces and eight major cities, before it finally arrives at the PyeongChang Olympic Stadium in time for the Opening Ceremony on 9 February 2018. The Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 will run from 9 to 21 February in PyeongChang and will feature approximately 3000 athletes from 95 NOCs.
Torchbearer Park Ji-sung said: “It’s a great honour to be able to represent our country and then be first torch bearer. I was always watching the Olympic Games when I was young, and then I was dreaming to become a sportsperson, and then now actually, and I am really pleased to be here doing the torch relay. I am really happy to be here”.
The IOC President was joined by the Chair of the PyeongChang 2018 Coordination Commission and IOC Executive Board Member Gunilla Lindberg and a number of other IOC members.