Tuesday, October 31, 2017 - 14:55
The Olympic Flame began its long journey to the Republic of Korea for the PeyongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games, in a solemn ceremony at the Panathenaic Stadium, in the presence of the President of the Hellenic Republic Prokopios Pavlopoulos. The President of the Hellenic Olympic Committee Spyros Capralos handed the Flame over to the President of the Organizing Committee “PyeongChang 2018” Lee Hee Beom.
The second to last Torchbearer Kim Ki-hoon, Korean Olympic champion in short track speed skating, passed the Flame to the last Torchbearer, Greek champion in skiing Yiannis Proios, who lit the cauldron, while thousands of spectators who had come to the Panathenaic Stadium cheered on him.
The ritual of the priestesses, choreographed by Artemis Ignatiou to the musical composition of Yannis Psimadas followed, while the torch with the Flame was given to Mr Capralos by the High Priestess Katerina Lehou, on her last performance as a High Priestess.
The ceremony was attended by the 1st Vice President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans, the European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos, the Minister of Culture Lydia Koniordou, the Deputy Minister for Sport Giorgos Vasiliadis, the leader of the political party “To Potami”, the HOC Secretary General Manolis Kolympadis, the President of the International Olympic Academy Isidoros Kouvelos, the IOC Honorary Member Lambis Nikolaou and many prominent personalities of sports and politics.
The HOC President Mr Capralos said in his speech: “I am very moved with all that we have experienced during the last days, from the Lighting of the Flame in Ancient Olympia, until it reached this very place, Athens, the capital of Greece. We witnessed the birth of the Olympic light at a touching ceremony at the place where the top sport, social and cultural event started in 776 BC, which turned into the strongest expression of friendship and fair play among the peoples of the whole world. We then witnessed the flame starting its long journey in our country, hand to hand, conveying the eternal messages of peace and fraternity. Now, the time has come for this journey in our country to come to an end, an in ideal closing here, at the Panathenaic stadium, the stadium connecting the ancient with the modern Olympic Games. The Flame which will be handed over in a few minutes to the delegation of PyeongChang, is a strong symbol of tradition and values governing the Olympic Movement. It is a beacon for the Olympic values. It is the symbol of universal peace. We are handing over, today, the Olympic Flame, so that you carry it to your distant but most beautiful country and so that it keeps sending the messages of peace, friendship and fraternity throughout its journey.”
The President of the Organizing Committee “PyeongChang 2018” stressed: “We are honored that the PyeongChang Winter Games represents the second time the Olympic Flame will be in Korea, since the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympic Games. The slogan of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Torch Relay, "Let Everyone Shine," means the Olympic flame will shine for each and everyone's dream, passions and future anytime and anywhere. The Olympic flame embodies this significant meaning. When the Olympic flame arrives in Korea, we also celebrate another milestone – 100 days to go until the start of Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang. The Olympic Torch Relay will be a very special journey that will shine throughout the host nation, for the dreams and passion toward winter sports in Asia and beyond. We are ready to welcome the world to PyeongChang. Construction of competition and non-competition venues are complete. The PyeongChang 2018 will be an Olympics of peace and harmony. PyeongChang 2018 will inspire younger generations and deliver the Olympic values of respect, friendship and peace to the world.”
Greek and Korean cultural events were held before the Handover of the Flame. The Greek event was performed by the general gymnastics team “Olympiada Thrakomakedonon”, consisting of 90 young girls and boys who presented the programme “The wolves and the moon”. The Korean event included a lyrical atmosphere with dancing and songs as well as the Olympic Torch Relay Theme Song.