Greece hands Olympic flame to 2024 Paris Games organisers

Screenshot 20240427 052219

Ioannis Fountoulis, a Greek water polo player from a long lineage of torchbearers, used the Olympic flame to light the cauldron at the Panathenaic Stadium. From there, the flame was handed over to Paris 2024 chief Tony Estanguet.

A brief moment of suspense followed as assistants struggled to light the lantern that would carry the flame to France. Estanguet joked, "It wants to stay in Greece."

Safely contained in the lantern, the flame will depart for France on Saturday, setting sail on a 19th-century sailing ship across the Mediterranean Sea. The journey will take 12 days, with the flame making landfall in the southern port city of Marseille.

The flame was originally kindled on April 16 at Olympia in southern Greece, the ancient site of the Olympic Games, which were held for over 1,000 years from around 776 B.C. to A.D. 393. From Olympia's ancient stadium, a relay of torchbearers carried the flame along a 5,000-kilometer (3,100-mile) route through Greece, including several islands and an overnight stop on the ancient Acropolis.

The Olympic flame will be housed overnight in the French Embassy in Athens before departing the port of Piraeus on Saturday aboard the Belem, a French three-masted sailing ship built in the year of the first modern Olympic Games in Athens. The Belem is scheduled to arrive in Marseille on May 8, after which the flame will embark on a relay through France, leading up to the opening ceremony of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

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