Olympic flame-Blog

Olympic Flame Begins Journey From Ancient Greece to Paris

The Olympic Flame, the symbol of the Olympic Games, is being lit on Tuesday in Ancient Olympia and begins its long journey to Paris for the Summer Olympics.

Some 600 dignitaries attend the ceremony, headed by Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou and International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach.

The ritual includes actresses in the role of ancient priestesses coaxing the Olympic flame into life with the help of a parabolic polished mirror in Olympia, where the Games were born in 776 BC.

The Olympic flame is carried by the priestess Mary Mina in a choreography inspired and directed by the choreographer Artemis Ignatiou to music composed by Dimitris Papadimitriou and performed by 35 priestesses and 15 kouroi. The costumes for the performers were created by the internationally renowned designer Mary Katrantzou.

The Olympic anthem was sung by the successful mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato and the master of ceremonies was the renowned journalist Nikos Aliagas.

The Olympic flame will be handed over to gold medalist Stefanos Douskos by priestess Mary Mina to begin the torch relay on Greek soil, which will last for 11 days until April 26.

The Lighting of the Olympic flame traditionally takes place in Ancient Olympia and is carried out by the Hellenic Olympic Committee.

Its history begins in 1936, on the occasion of the Olympic Games in Berlin. With the help of a concave mirror and as the ritual defines, the Lighting is performed by the High Priestess in the Temple of Hera (Heraion), in the archaeological site of Olympia.

There, the priestess asks the help of the sun god Apollo to light the torch as she makes the invocation.

The first Lighting of the Olympic Flame in Ancient Olympia took place on July 20, 1936, for the Berlin Olympic Games with the then High Priestess Koula Pratsika, who is considered a pioneer of classical dance in Greece and was the first choreographer of the lighting ceremony.

After two editions of the Olympic Games that have lost their great ‘glow’ due to restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, namely the Tokyo Summer Olympics in 2021 and the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022, the traditional ceremony at the cradle of Olympism regained all its colors with a live audience.

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