Pyeongchang Games flame lit in birthplace of ancient Olympics

Special Olympics local athlete Alice Robb holds the Law Enforcement Torch with Cathy Hayes in Nelson on Saturday

The torch that will help light up the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics in February has been lit in Greece. We are carrying the ancient traditions to the future.

The ceremony began with the raising of the Olympic Flag, and then the national flags of South Korea and Greece before a local actor recited the poem, "The Light of Olympia".

"Now it will be up to Pyeongchang to keep the dynamism for the last three months of preparations", International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said.

The torch was lit using Monday's dress rehearsal flame as clouds and light rain during the ceremony did not allow for the high priestess, played by actress Katerina Lechou, to use the concave reflector and light it using the sun's rays.

South Korean (R), Olympic and Greek flags are hoisted during the Olympic flame lighting ceremony for the 2018 PyeongChang Games in Olympia, Greece, on October 24, 2017.

"Our dream of hosting the Olympic winter Games has now become a reality".

"This is bigger than Seoul (summer Olympics) 1988".

Bach said the Olympic flame and the Olympic Games will inspire the world again.

From the verdant, rain-soaked valley of Ancient Olympia, where the Games of antiquity were held for more than a thousand years, the flame will course through Greece for eight days and reach South Korea on November 1. Bach made no direct reference to the tensions Tuesday, only saying during his speech that the Games "stand above and beyond all the differences that divide us".

Following a dance performance by dozens of artists on the slope of the ancient stadium which hosted the first Games 25 centuries ago, the High Priestess passed the torch to the first torchbearer, Greek cross-country skier Apostolos Angelis, along with an olive branch.

After securing the flame, the high priestess gave her prayer to the ancient Greek gods and headed to the Ancient Stadium with all priestesses in procession.

Angelis then transported the torch to the Pierre de Coubertin Monument, where South Korean football icon Park Ji-sung, who also serves as an honorary ambassador for the 2018 PyeongChang Games, was waiting to carry the flame.

Participating will be 505 torchbearers and 36 welcome ceremonies will be held in 20 districts during the eight days.

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 auto and bike, as the country prepares to host the best winter sports athletes from across the world.

Under the theme of "Let Everyone Shine", the torch will start its one-hundred-and-one day journey to the main stadium in Pyeongchang, covering exactly 2,18 kilometers, traveling through all of Korea's nine provinces and eight major cities, and passing by several major landmarks along the way.

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