Tuesday, July 24, 2018 - 13:58
It is in the midst of mourning due to the tragedy which hit Greece, that the handover ceremony for the Youth Olympic Games of “Buenos Aires 2018” took place at the Panathenaic Stadium. The Hellenic Olympic Committee modified the ritual, cancelled the dance of the Priestesses and did only what was strictly necessary in order to conclude the ceremony. A minute of silence was held in memory of the victims from the devastating fires that hit Attica. The Flame was handed over to Gerardo Werthein, President of the Organizing Committee of Buenos Aires 2018 and IOC member by the President of the Hellenic Olympic Committee Spyros Capralos.
Xanthi Georgiou was the new High Priestess and Artemis Ignatiou was the choreographer. In his short speech, the HOC President Spyros Capralos mentioned: “In the last hours, an untold tragedy with the loss of human lives has hit our country. This is why I want to apologize for changing today’s ceremony due to the situation in our country. Mourning is deep and the ceremony could not but be affected. We would like to thank you, our friends from Argentina, for your presence here and I want to wish you on behalf of all Greek people all the best for the success of the Youth Olympic Games. May the Flame carry the passion and the dreams of the young people, before lighting the cauldron in the Olympic Stadium in Buenos Aires. Let the Games become a healthy pattern for young people all around the world and the hope for a better future”.
On behalf of the Organizing Committee “Buenos Aires 2018” Gerardo Werthein stressed: “I wish to express to the Greeks my condolences, on behalf of the IOC, the Olympic movement and the people of Argentina, for the tragic loss of lives from the fires. We are standing by you on these difficult times. It is with great joy that we are gathered in this historic stadium to steep in traditions from the past to celebrate the Youth Olympic Games of the future. Buenos Aires 2018 has started today with the flame lighting. With pride, we will bring it to the south of the globe and, from there, we will enlighten the world with the inspiring message of Olympism and its values. We will carry the Youth Olympic Flame across thousands of kilometers of Argentina΄s geography. Buenos Aires 2018 will be the first Olympic competition with gender equality. Thanks to our friends from the IOC, the International Federations and the National Olympic Committees, the third edition of the Summer Youth Olympic Games will make history for closing the gender gap.”
Danka Bartenkova, member of the IOC Coordination Commission for the Youth Olympic Games “Buenos Aires 2018” and Vice-Chair of the IOC Athletes Commission said: It is a great pleasure for me to represent today the International Olympic Committee and convey the special thanks of President Thomas Bach. Unfortunately, the tragic events in Greece have affected us all and our hearts are here with you. The Flame, a symbol of peace, today is a symbol of hope, not only for supporting Greece to get over this tragedy, but also for young people around the world. I hope the Flame and its journey will inspire young athletes, young people and sports fans”. The “Young Change-Maker” for the Youth Olympic Games Georgios Margaritis and the Argentinian cycling champion Valentina Munoz also addressed the audience. Before handing over the Flame, a Torch Relay was held in the Panathenaic Stadium, with the Greek taekwondo champion Giorgos Ioannou as the first Torchbearer and the Greek rhythmic gymnastics champion Ioanna Magopoulou as the last. Valenina Munoz and Yoel Vargas, both Argentinian cycling champions, also carried the Flame.