Tuesday, October 24, 2017 - 15:20
The Olympic Flame, lit today at the sacred land of ancient Olympia, began its journey to PyeongChang, Korea for the XXIII winter Olympic Games “PyeongChang 2018”. The sacred Light of Olympism was lit by the High Priestess Katerina Lehou, who, once again, performed her duty excellently, at the Lighting Ceremony. Τhe ceremony was honoured by the presence of the President of the Hellenic Republic Mr. Prokopios Pavlopoulos and the President of the International Olympic Committee Mr. Thomas Bach, who were welcome by the HOC President Mr. Spyros Capralos.
The magnificent ritual of the dance, was inspired by the choreographer Artemis Ignatiou, to the music of the composer Yiannis Psimadas, with the Priestesses and the male dancers stealing the show, dressed in the traditional garments, designed by Eleni Kyriacou. The skiing champion Apostolos Angelis as the first torchbearer handed over the Flame to the former football player PARK Ji-sung who represented the Organizing Committee of PyeongChang.
The ceremony opened with students of schools coming from Olympia and neighboring areas shaping the five Olympic rings and marching with the flags of all the countries that belong to the Olympic family. The ceremony was also attended by the former IOC President Jacques Rogge, as well as representatives of the upcoming Olympic Games, PyeongChang 2018 Lee Hee beom, Tokyo 2020 Tsunekazu Takeda, , Beijing 2022 Zaiqing Yu, Paris 2024, Denis Masseglia, Los Angeles 2028 Lawrence Probst III, in a gesture of unity and solidarity among nations. All the representatives posed for a photograph with Tomas Bach, Spyros Capralos, the First Torchbearer and the High Priestess.
The ceremony was also attended by the members of the International Olympic Committee Anita de Frantz, Gunilla Lindberg, Ser Miang Ng, Guy Drut, Jean Christophe Rolland, Alex Gilady, Lambis Nikolaou, the deputy minister of Sports Giorgos Vasileiadis, the Secretary General of Sport Ioulios Synadinos, the deputy Minister of Education Dimitris Baxevanakis, the President of the International Olympic Academy Isidoros Kouvelos and the HOC Secretary General Manolis Kolympadis. The first Torchbearer Apostolos Angelis said: "I am very happy and excited. This is one of the most important moments in an athetes’s life. I am truly honored to be given this opportunity. I want to thank the Hellenic Olympic Committee for the privilege of being the first Torchbearer."
The President of the International Olympic Committee, Mr. Thomas Bach, said in his speech: Then as now, the Olympic Games are a symbol of hope and peace. It is this heritage that we are honouring today. But we are not only looking to the past. With our ceremony, we are also carrying this ancient tradition into the future. Let me thank the President of the Hellenic Republic, Prokopios Pavlopoulos, who with his presence today is demonstrating the commitment of modern Greece to our eternal Olympic Values. Our thanks and gratitude also go to the Mayor of Olympia, Efthimios Kotzas, and the President of the Hellenic Olympic Committee, Spyros Capralos, for preserving this noble heritage for future generations. Sas efharisto poli, fili moy ellines! The Olympic Games are sacred and universal. They stand above and beyond all the differences that divide us. In our fragile world that seems to be drifting apart, the Olympic Games have the power to unite humanity in all its diversity. In our fragile world, where isolation and mistrust are growing, the Olympic Games always build bridges and friendship. Then as now, the Olympic Games are a symbol of hope and peace.”
The HOC President, Spyros Capralos said: “Today’s lighting of the Flame for the Games to be staged in the Republic of Korea, is a unique opportunity for the Olympic and sport movement to focus on the universal and never-ending necessity for peace, so much the more at a time when the drums of war are loudly echoing in many areas of the world. The Flame has always had a very special place at the hearts of us, Greeks. In every journey it makes and no matter how far it goes, we feel that it carries a part of our country. We hope, that the Olympic Flame, which will soon reach PyeongChang will convey and spread messages of friendship, while reminding at the same time the constant values of the Olympic movement we all share”.
The President of the Organising Committee “PyeongChang 2018” Lee Hee beom stated: “The Olympic flame symbolizes the Olympic values which have become so important in today’s world. This is especially significant to Korea. The PyeongChang Winter Games are an Olympics of peace and harmony. We are ready to welcome the world to PyeongChang and spread this message. We want the international community to understand that we are committed to hosting a safe and secure Olympic Winter Games. All countries have been invited by the IOC to participate in largest-ever Winter Games. The moment we have been waiting for is here. The Olympic flame will travel Greece and then be handed over to Korea, in time for our 100 days to go celebration. We are confident that the excitement and enthusiasm will ignite the passion for the Games. This is a very special occasion for us, and we are honored to be here with you all today to share in this moment”.
The Mayor of ancient Olympia said in his speech: “The Olympic Flame and the Torch Relay that is about to begin its journey for the city of PyeongChang, will carry along Olympia's message; which are the values of humanity, tolerance, and peaceful coexistence of the people of our planet. Today, during one of the most crucial international conjunctures, we send out once again the Olympic Light to reconnect the young people of the world and work towards universal peace and prosperity.