OLYMPIA, Oct 24 — The Olympic torch for the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang will be lit today in a traditional ceremony at Olympia, birthplace of the ancient Olympics.
Greek officials successfully conducted the final rehearsal for the kindling of the Olympic flame on Sunday in sunny skies but local meteorologists predict rain for today’s ceremony.
Should the Greek actress dressed as an ancient priestess fail in her attempt to light the silver torch with the sun’s rays using a concave mirror at noon local time, than the backup flame lit on Sunday will be used.
“Even though bad weather conditions are in the forecast for the lighting of the flame, we hope that everything will run smoothly as planned,” said Thanasis Vasileiadis, chairman of the Torch Relay Commission.
Standing in front of the 2,600-year-old Temple of Hera, Greek actress Katerina Lehou will attempt to light the flame and hand it over to the first torchbearer, 24-year-old Greek cross country and biathlon athlete Apostolos Angelis.
“It is a great honour for me to be chosen as the first torchbearer for the Winter Olympic Games of 2018. It is truly a unique moment that I am looking forward to. I feel very proud and with a unique sense of happiness,” Angelis said.
Former South Korean international footballer Park Ji-Sung, 37, who played for Manchester United and Eindhoven, will be the second torchbearer.
The torch relay will cover 2,129 kilometres on Greek territory and will arrive at the Acropolis in Athens on October 30.
Participating will be 505 torchbearers and 36 welcome ceremonies will be held in 20 municipalities during the eight days.
On October 31 the flame will be handed over to the Pyeongchang 2018 Organising Committee during a ceremony at Athens’ Panathenaic Stadium, where the first modern Olympic Games were held in 1896.
Scheduled to attend the torch lighting ceremony Tuesday are Greek President Prokopios Pavlopoulos, South Korean Prime Minister Nak-Yon Lee and International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach.
The torch harks back to the ancient Olympics, when a sacred flame burned throughout the Games. The tradition was revived in 1936 for the Berlin Olympics. — AFP