• May 31, 2020

The ceremony of lighting the Olympic Flame was held in the Temple of Hera in Olympia. The traditional event began the 2020 Olympic Torch Relay.

It was a “unique” version of the traditional rite, since the coronavirus pandemic forced the ceremony to be held without an audience. Also absent were the usual child performers and accompanying cultural festival generally held in Olympia. Among the few invited guests was IOC President Thomas Bach, who delivered a speech to mark the occasion.

“This ceremony demonstrates once more our commitment to the success of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. Nineteen weeks before the Opening Ceremony, we are strengthened in this commitment by the many authorities and sports organizations around the world which are taking so many significant measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus.”

A full transcript of Thomas Bach’s speech can be found here.

The Olympic Flame was lit the traditional way, using a parabolic mirror to harness the energy of the sun. The Sun, like the Olympic Games, is a symbolic body that reminds of us the ever burning passion of the human spirit. It serves a good reminder of the enduring nature of the Olympic Games during these troubling times.

The first torchbearer of Tokyo 2020 Torch Relay, was Anna Korakaki of Greece. Korakaki, an Olympic Champion in shooting, was given the flame by the high priestess, Xanthi Georgiou. Korakaki then began the Tokyo2020 Torch Relay by leaving the grounds of Temple of Hera.

During her leg of the relay, Korakaki payed a traditional tribute at the monument of Pierre de Coubertin (the monument actually houses the heart of the Father of the Modern Olympics). She then passed the torch to the first Japanese torchbearer of the Relay – Noguchi Mizuki, 2004 Marathon Olympic Champion.

After a week long journey through Greece, the fatherland of the Olympics, the torch will be handed over to the Japanese organizers during a ceremony in Athens. The torch will then fly to Japan for its journey across the host country of the 2020 Olympic Games.

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