The Olympic flame was passed to organizers of the 2018 Pyeongchang Games on Tuesday, and it’ll now head off on a 100-day journey across South Korea prior to the opening ceremony on Feb. 9.
Pyeongchang organizing committee president Lee Hee-beom said the games are an Olympics of “peace and stability,” despite tension between the host and its reclusive nuclear-armed neighbour North Korea.
Dressed as a high priestess, celebrity Katerina Lehou headed the 90-minute ceremony in Athens in the Panathenian Stadium, a horseshoe-shaped marble place where the first modern Olympics were held in 1896.
A cauldron was lit by Greek skier Ioannis Proios after performances by singers, dancers and acrobats from Greece and South Korea. The flame, put in a lantern, was handed over to Greek Olympic Committee president Spyros Capralos, who handed it to Lee.
The South Korean leg of this relay will involve 7,500 torch-bearers and see 17 cities and provinces throughout the country.
Preparations for the Feb. 9-25 games are being held amid escalating tension on the Korean peninsula following nuclear and missile tests by North Korea. Lee has promised that the games will be secure, but he made no mention of this crisis in his opinions in Athens.
“We are prepared to welcome the world to Pyeongchang. The building of competition and non-competition places is already complete,” Lee said, minutes before being handed a white-and-gold flashlight with the Olympic flame. “Pyeongchang 2018 is going to be an Olympic Games of peace and stability.”
South Korean organizers said two backup paraffin lanterns were also used on the flight from Athens to Incheon, South Korea, and were being escorted by three fire wardens.
Tuesday’s ceremony was held after the fire was lit in Ancient Olympia on Oct. 23. This was followed by a torch relay around Greece.
Courtesy: The Globe And Mail