While most Americans were fast asleep this morning, the Olympic flame was lit in Ancient Olympia, Greece, and has now begun the journey that will lead to the Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 in February.
As is the tradition, the flame was lit by sunlight using a parabolic mirror at the Temple of Hera, with actress Katerina Lehou playing the role of the high priestess.
The ceremony, which began at noon local time, included a reading of Takis Doxas’ poem, “The Light of Olympia,” and several addresses, including from Efthymios Kotzas, the mayor of Ancient Olympia, Lee Hee-beom, president of the PyeongChang organizing committee, and International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach.
“As our founder, Pierre de Coubertin, once said: ‘The Olympic Games are a pilgrimage to the past and an act of faith in the future,’” Bach said.
He continued: “What better expression of this faith in the future, than the presence of the President of the Hellenic Olympic Committee, together with the Presidents of the National Olympic Committees of the Republic of Korea, Japan, China, France and the United States of America. Together, they represent the future hosts of Olympic Games, PyeongChang 2018, Tokyo 2020, Beijing 2022, Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028. Today’s ceremony marks the beginning of the celebration of the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018.”
Greek cross-country skier Apostolos Angelis, who will compete in 2018, became the first torchbearer. Over the next week the torch relay will travel roughly 1,300 miles across Greece before arriving at the Acropolis on Oct. 30 and being handed over to members of the PyeongChang organizing committee at a ceremony on Oct. 31.
The next day, Nov. 1, will mark 100 days until the start of the 2018 Winter Games.
From there, the torch will travel all across South Korea, visiting eight major cities and nine provinces nationwide by plane, ship, train, sailboat, robot, zip wire, cable car and bike, as the country prepares to host the best winter sports athletes from across the world. A total of 7,500 torchbearers will carry the torch 2,018 kilometers as part of the Olympic Torch Relay that culminates when the torch arrives at Olympic Stadium on Feb. 9.