The 2018 winter olympic games: olympic flame lit on Tuesday in Olympia
24 October, 2017, 18:09
The flame for the 2018 Pyeongchang Games has been lit in the ruined birthplace of the ancient Olympics, despite a brief cloudburst that disrupted the ceremony.
From the verdant, rain-soaked valley of Ancient Olympia, where the Games of antiquity were held for more than a thousand years, the flame will course through Greece for eight days and reach South Korea on November 1.
The Pyeongchang Winter Games will be held from February 9-25 only 80km from the heavily guarded border with the nuclear-armed North.
The flame will be handed over to the PyeongChang 2018 Organizing Committee during an October 31 ceremony in Athens and then flown to the Korean city of Incheon, arriving on November 1 to mark the 100-day mark before the start of the 2018 Winter Games.
Pyeongchang (south Korea) will be lit on Tuesday in Olympia. "They are very well under way, the stage is set for the winter athletes of the world and we are looking forward to a successful and great Olympic Games in Pyeongchang".
Normally, the flame-lighting ceremony involves the priestess offering a token prayer to the dead pagan gods of Olympia - a major ancient Greek sanctuary - before using a bowl-shaped mirror to focus the heat of the sun's rays on her torch.
Actress Katerina Lehou will portray the High Priestess.
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The ceremony inside the stadium, site of the ancient Olympics, was also attended by South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach and the President of Greece, Prokopis Pavlopoulos.
Bach said the Olympic flame and the Olympic Games will inspire the world again. "We're ready to welcome the world and spread this message of peace and harmony".
"Our Olympic values have stood the test of time of peace and understanding", he added. However, ancient traditions point to an earlier date for sports events at Olympia, where the first traces of human settlement go back to the 3rd millennium B.C.
The Greek actress Katerina Lehou gives the olympic torch to the first relay, the cross-country skier and biathlete Greek 24-year-old Apostolos Angelis during a rehearsal this Monday in Olympia. It was reintroduced during the modern Games at the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam and was first featured at the Winter Games at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, eight year later.
The flame is due to arrive in South Korea on November 1 for the start of the domestic torch relay as organizers look to boost local enthusiasm amid low ticket sales.
The IOC said the Olympic flame will take a tour of Greece for the next eight days with some 505 torchbearers covering 2,129 kilometers of Greek soil.
The second leg of the relay in South Korea will involve 7,500 torchbearers and 2,018 support runners across its 2,018 km journey to the PyeongChang Olympic Stadium on February 9.
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