Things you need to know about Paris 2024 Olympic flame lighting ceremony

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Greek actress Mary Mina (front L), playing the role of the High Priestess, lights the flame during the final dress rehearsal of the Olympic flame lighting ceremony for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games in Ancient Olympia, Greece, on April 15, 2024. (Xinhua/Zhao Dingzhe)

With 100-day countdown to the 2024 Paris Olympic Games around the corner, the Olympic flame that will burn throughout the Paris Olympics will be lit during a ceremony on Tuesday in Ancient Olympia, Greece.

The lighting of the Olympic flame is a symbolic moment that has been a tradition of the Olympic Games since 1936. The flame not only represents the positive values, such as peace and friendship, but also acts as a link between the ancient and modern Games.

To the ancient Greeks, fire was a sacred element, and perpetual fires were maintained in front of their main temples. During the ancient Olympic Games, a flame burned permanently on the altar of the sanctuary of the goddess Hestia; additional fires were lit at the temples of Zeus and Hera.

Today, the Olympic flame is lit in front of the ruins of the temple of Hera by an actress playing the part of the high priestess, who uses a parabolic dish to concentrate the sun’s rays and ignite her torch.

The Olympic flame is placed in an urn and brought to the ancient stadium by Hestiada (the priestess keeper of the fire), where it is handed over by the high priestess to a torchbearer along with an olive branch – a universal symbol of peace.

The torchbearer then carries the flame to the Coubertin Grove on the site of the International Olympic Academy, where it is used to light an altar beside the monument in which the heart of Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic movement, is interred.

At this point, the torchbearer passes the Olympic flame to a second torchbearer, who represents the host country of the Olympic Games.

The Olympic flame will then be carried throughout Greece during an 11-day relay, in which more than 550 torchbearers will carry the flame.

It will arrive in Athens ahead of the handover ceremony to the Paris 2024 organizing committee at the Panathenaic Stadium on April 26.

Following the ceremony, the Olympic flame will spend the night at the French Embassy in Athens before boarding the Belem (a famous three-masted ship that was first launched in 1896) the following day to head for Marseille, France, where it will arrive on May 8.

The Paris Olympics will be held from July 26 to August 11.

Xinhua News Agency

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