Thursday, March 12, 2020 - 14:04
The Olympic Flame for Tokyo Olympic Games, began its journey in Ancient Olympia, sending glimpses of optimism around the world for better days.
The Olympic Flame was lit in the Temple of Hera by the sun rays with the High Priestess Xanthi Georgiou passing the Flame to the Olympic champion in shooting Anna Korakaki, who is the first ever female torchbearer to start the torch relay.
The ritual was inspired by the choreographer Artemis Ignatiou while the music composition was inspired by Yiannis Psimadas and the costumes were designed by Eleni Kyriacou.
The ceremony, which took place without the presence of the public, was attended by the President of the Hellenic Republic Mr. Prokopios Pavlopoulos, the President of the International Olympic Committee, Mr. Thomas Bach, the Vice President of the Government Mr. Panagiotis Pikrammenos, the vice president of the European Commission Mr. Margaritis Schinas, the minister of Culture Mrs Lina Mendoni, the Minister of Tourism Mr. Harry Theoharis, the Deputy Minister of Sport, Mr. Lefteris Avgenakis, the Western Greece Regional Governor, Mr. Nektarios Farmakisthe IOC members John Coates, Morinari Watanabe and Yasuhiro Yamashita, the President of the International Olympic Academy, Mr. Isidoros Kouvelos, the Secretary General of the International Committee of the Mediterranean Games, Mr. Iakovos Filippousis, the Japan's Ambassador to Greece Yasuhiro Shimizu the Secretary General for Sport, Mr Giorgos Mavrotas and other officials. The Chairman of the HOC Torch Relay Commission, Mr. Thanasis Vasileiadis was responsible for the ceremony while Mr Konstantinos Pantazis was the coordinator of the ceremonies.
The HOC President and IOC member for Greece Mr. Spyros Capralos said in his speech: “We are gathered today, in Olympia, the cradle of Olympism, the place where thoughts are deep and emotions are high, to light the Flame which will illuminate the whole world.
This Flame is a symbol of the traditions and values of the Olympic movement: friendship, excellence, solidarity and respect. The Torchbearers will convey the message of peace and that sport makes our world a better place. The Olympic Games bring humanity together, in a truly peaceful, worldwide event.
In this Ceremony, most regretfully, we had to downsize turnout to protect public health. However, the live broadcast and the beautiful images from the historic location where the Olympic Games began, capture in their entirety the Olympic spirit”.
The IOC President stated: “We are grateful to the Greek people to this day for this precious gift to humankind. This is why I would like to thank the President of the Hellenic Republic, Prokopios Pavlopoulous, for honouring us with his presence today and for demonstrating the direct connection between modern Greece and this noble heritage.
I would also like to express my sincere thanks and gratitude to our hosts today, the President of the Hellenic Olympic Committee, Spyros Capralos and the Mayor of Olympia, Georgios Georgiopoulos. We are especially grateful that you made today’s ceremony possible even under difficult circumstances. This demonstrates once more our commitment to the success of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. We are strengthened in this commitment also by the many authorities and sports organisations who are already now taking so many measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus 19 weeks before the Opening Ceremony”.
The TOCOG acting President, Mr. Toshiaki Endo mentioned: “Currently, the novel coronavirus outbreak known as COVID-19 continues to spread across the world every day. All nations will keep taking the best effort together until the coronavirus is all over. We are very grateful that all concerned people in Greece has taken all possible and appropriate measures for the lighting ceremony and following events. We, the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, will achieve the success of the Olympic Games well prepared in close cooperation with the IOC, the government of Japan, and the Tokyo metropolitan government.
It is 56 years since the Olympic flame last came to Tokyo for the Tokyo 1964 Games. Looking back, Tokyo had the honour of becoming the first city in Asia to host the Olympic Games. In accordance with the Olympic Charter, the Olympic flame served as a symbol of peace, and the Olympic flame visited several Asian cities before finally landing in Japan.
The Olympic Torch Relay travelled all over Japan serving to remind people just how precious peace is, and bringing the people of Japan hope for tomorrow and confidence in the future”.
The Mayor of ancient Olympia Mr. Giorgos Georgiopoulos stressed: “Olympia’s authentic message does not prorogue the spiritual, athletic and economic activities of the modern Olympic Games, it demands moderation and determines the limits of exaggeration and occasionally of hubris.
Truce is no longer imposed by the trumpet calls of the truce-bearer heralds. However, one can seek in the Olympic institutions actions and initiatives in the major issues of our times, the refugee issue, climate change, local and regional conflicts”.
The torch relay of the first day will travel through Amaliada, ancient Ilida, Pyrgos, Zacharo, Pylos, Messini, and will arrive to Kalamata.