Paris Olympics: Torch lit in Olympia

Olympic flame lighting ceremony

OLYMPIA, Greece — The torch for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games was lit in a ceremony at ancient Olympia on Tuesday. The lighting signified the home stretch to the seven-year journey for the Paris Olympic Games.

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Actress Mary Mina played the role of the high priestess, symbolically lighting the torch to start the relay in Greece. It will end in France when the Olympic flame is lit during the games’ opening ceremony.

Tuesday’s ceremony, complete with choreographed prayers to Apollo, dates back to 1936 for the Berlin Games, CNN reported.

The first runner of the relay was Greek Olympic rowing champion Stefanos Ntouskos

“As a Greek, I have been raised with images of the relay and it is incredible to be here in ancient Olympia today and to be receiving a flame that will travel all the way to the Paris Olympics,” Ntouskos said, according to CNN.

He transferred the flame to host city representative and three-time Olympic swimming medalist, Laure Manaudou of France.

Paris Games organizers will then receive the flame on April 26 at Athens’ Panathenaic stadium — the site of the first modern games in 1896 — after an 11-day relay across Greece. The tour is more than 3,100 miles long with more than 600 torch bearers, according to The Associated Press and CNN.

The flame will then be carried to the three-masted ship, the Belem, to be taken to Marseille for a ceremony on May 8 before the start of a 68-day relay around France, carried by about 10,000 torchbearers, CNN reported.

The president of the International Olympic Committee said he hopes the upcoming athletic competitions will help bring the world in conflict together.

“In these difficult times we are living through, with wars and conflicts on the rise, people are fed up with all the hate, the aggression and negative news they are facing day in and day out,” Thomas Bach said, according to Reuters. “We are longing for something which brings us together, something that is unifying, something that gives us hope. The Olympic flame that we are lighting today is the symbol of this hope.”

Arrangements have been made to allow athletes from Russia and Belarus to compete despite the ongoing war in Ukraine. The athletes will be considered neutral and will not compete under a flag or anthem.

Russia will also be asked to abide by a ceasefire during the games, but Kremlin officials said that Ukraine may use the stoppage to regroup.

The 2024 Summer Olympic Games begin July 26.