Thursday, March 19, 2020 - 14:37
The Olympic Flame began its journey to Tokyo in the hands of representatives of the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee.
The Handover Ceremony took place at the Panathenaic Stadium, without the presence of spectators. The President of the Hellenic Olympic Committee and member of the International Olympic Committee for Greece, Spyros Capralos, handed over the Olympic Flame to the representative of the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee, Mrs. Naoko Imoto, responsible for education for Unicef in Greece, who participated in the “Atlanta 1996” Olympic Games in Swimming.
Earlier there was a Torch Relay inside the Panathenaic Stadium with two Greek torchbearers, the Olympic champions Lefteris Petrounias and Katerina Stefanidi.The ceremony was attended by the Deputy Minister for Sport, Lefteris Avgenakis and the Japanese Ambassador in Greece Yasuhiro Shimizu.
In his short speech, Mr. Capralos emphasized: “The Hellenic Olympic Committee is handing over the Olympic Flame to Japan in a spirit of true friendship and solidarity. Besides, our two countries are bound together in close friendship for so many years; amity and harmony between us is a long-standing tradition, dating back centuries ago. Today, the light of Olympism is a great opportunity to make us remember the strong bonds that have been keeping us united for so long. I am sure that you will welcome the Flame and honour it with respect, as it is for us Greeks, a part of our country and culture. At the same time, I wish to believe that the journey of the Flame in your country will offer joy and hope to the people of the whole world who are currently in pain and challenged. Let us hope that the Olympic Flame, symbol of peace and solidarity, will extinguish the virus and defeat it! And then the Olympic Movement, united and free from this vicious enemy will gather in Tokyo to celebrate the biggest Sport event that unites the whole world, the Olympic Games”.
The Flame was handed over by the High Priestess, Xanthi Georgiou, to the HOC President in the presence of the choreographer of the Olympic Flame Ceremonies Artemis Ignatiou. The music composition was inspired by Yiannis Psimadasand the costumes were designed by Eleni Kyriacou. ThanasisVasileiadis, Chairman of the HOC Olympic Torch Relay was responsible for the ceremony and Konstantinos Pantazis was the coordinator.
A video message was sent by the Chairman of the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee, Mr. Yoshiro Mori, who said: “The concept of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay is 'Hope Lights Our Way'. I hope the light will shine on the hearts of people all over Japan, and that shake off the dark clouds hanging over the earth to lead the excitement of the Olympic Games that people all over the world are looking forward to. I hereby pledge that, on July 24th, this flame will be lit at the new Olympic Stadium in Tokyo”.
A charter flight will transport the Olympic flame from Greece to Tokyo.