Olympic flame to shine on March 12

Hellenic Olympic Committee (HOC) on Monday outlined the program of the Lighting ceremony of the Olympic Flame which will be burning for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games this summer.

Telling a press conference at their premises in Athens, HOC officials as always did not reveal many details beyond the basic framework of the customary ceremony, which will take place on March 12 at ancient Olympia, in western Greece, the birthplace of the Games 2,500 years ago.

They promised a flawless event which will mark also the start of the torch relay that “will carry the timeless messages of peace, friendship and fair play” as Spyros Capralos, HOC President and International Olympic Committee member, said.

IOC President Thomas Bach, Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis will be among dignitaries attending the ceremony, he announced.

The Olympic Flame will be ignited during a ritual ceremony using the sun’s rays and a concave mirror inside the ancient stadium.

A total of 55 persons, all volunteers, will take part in the ceremony, choreographer Artemis Ignatiou, artistic director of the ceremonies since 2008, said.

A choreography, which was inspired by images on ancient Greek pottery and statues, which will be performed by Greek actors and dancers playing the roles of ancient Greek priestesses and male youth, will follow, she added.

Then the Flame will be handed over by Greek actress Xanthi Georgiou, who will be playing the role of the High Priestess, to the first torchbearer, Anna Korakaki.

The Greek Olympic shooting champion who had won a gold and a bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics will be the first-ever woman to start the torch relay, as HOC noted when making the announcement earlier this February.

The last Greek torchbearer to carry the Flame inside the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens during the handover ceremony on March 19 will be another female athlete, Katerina Stefanidi, who had won a pole vault gold medal at the 2016 Olympics.

Katerina Sakellaropoulou, the former Greek top court judge and the first ever woman in the history of the Greek modern state who was elected President of the Hellenic Republic in late January this year, will attend the handover ceremony in her new role, as she formally assumes office earlier in March, Capralos announced.

A total of 600 torchbearers will carry the Flame across 3,200 kilometers in Greece, HOC officials said.