Paris 2024 Olympic flame begins journey to France


Sunday, 28 April 2024 (13:13 IST)
Athens: The Olympic flame for Paris 2024 began its journey from Greece's Piraeus port to France on Saturday on board the French ship Belem.
The three-masted ship set sail from Greece's largest port 90 days before the opening ceremony of the Games on July 26.
It was the first time in the history of the Games that the Olympic Flame has been transported by sea.
Belem, launched in 1896, the same year the first modern Olympics was hosted in Athens, carries the flame in a lantern.
After crossing the Mediterranean, it is scheduled to reach the port of Marseille on May 8 to kickstart the second leg of the torch relay.
The Greek leg of the torch relay started on April 16 from Ancient Olympia, the birthplace of the Olympics 2,800 years ago, where the flame was ignited next to the stadium where ancient athletes competed.
In an official handover ceremony held on Friday at Panathenaic stadium, the venue of the 1896 Games, Tony Estanguet, president of the organizing committee of the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games, received the flame.
"We are looking forward to welcoming the world," Estanguet said on Saturday shortly before carrying the flame on board Belem.
The 2024 Olympic Games, hosted by France a century after the first time the country hosted the Olympics, will place an emphasis on sustainability and gender equality, he said.
The Games will end on August 11, to be followed by the Paralympics, but after the curtain falls, Parisians will have a clean river Seine to enjoy and new facilities, he told Xinhua of the Paris Olympics' legacy.
In addition, French organizers are eager that the Olympics will inspire and help "engage more youth in sport," he said.
Estanguet also sent a message for the Olympic Truce. "Athletes are the best ambassadors of peace," he said.
"The Olympic flame is a symbol of the Olympism, carrying the values of peace and unity," French Minister for Sport and the Olympic and Paralympic Games Amelie Oudea-Castera told Xinhua on Saturday in front of Belem.
Olympias, a reconstruction of an ancient Athenian trireme (three-rower) vessel, escorted Belem and the flame to the exit of Piraeus port, as spectators waving French flags wished good seas and best success to the Paris Games.

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