x

SPORTS

Despite Weather Glitch, the Paris Olympics Flame is Lit at the Greek Cradle of Ancient Games

ANCIENT OLYMPIA, Greece (AP) — Even without the help of Apollo, the flame that is to burn at the Paris Olympics was kindled Tuesday at the site of the ancient games in southern Greece.

Cloudy skies prevented the traditional lighting, when an actress dressed as an ancient Greek priestess uses the sun to ignite a silver torch — after offering up a symbolic prayer to Apollo, the ancient Greek sun god.

Instead, a backup flame was used that had been lit on the same spot Monday, during the final rehearsal.

Normally, the foremost of a group of priestesses in long, pleated dresses dips the fuel-filled torch into a parabolic mirror which focuses the sun’s rays on it, and fire spurts forth.

Performers take part in the official ceremony of the flame lighting for the Paris Olympics, at the Ancient Olympia site, Greece, Tuesday, April 16, 2024. The flame will be carried through Greece for 11 days before being handed over to Paris organizers on April 26. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

But this time she didn’t even try, going straight for the backup, kept in a copy of an ancient Greek pot. Ironically, a few minutes later the sun shone forth.

From the ancient stadium in Olympia, a relay of torchbearers will carry the flame more than 5,000 kilometers (3,100 miles) through Greece until the handover to Paris Games organizers in Athens on April 26.

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said the flame lighting combined “a pilgrimage to our past in ancient Olympia, and an act of faith in our future.”

“In these difficult times … with wars and conflicts on the rise, people are fed up with all the hate, the aggression and negative news,” he said. “We are longing for something which brings us together; something that is unifying; something that gives us hope.”

The first torch bearer, Greek olympic gold medalist Stefanos Douskos, runs towards the monument to Pierre de Coubertin, in the background, after the official ceremony of the flame lighting for the Paris Olympics, at the Ancient Olympia site, Greece, Tuesday, April 16, 2024. The flame will be carried through Greece for 11 days before being handed over to Paris organizers on April 26. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Thousands of spectators from all over the world packed Olympia for Tuesday’s event amid the ruined temples and sports grounds where the ancient games were held from 776 B.C.-393 A.D.

The sprawling site, in a lush valley by the confluence of two rivers, is at its prettiest in the spring, teeming with pink-flowering Judas trees, small blue irises and the occasional red anemone.

The first torchbearer was Greek rower Stefanos Douskos, a gold medalist in 2021 in Tokyo. He ran to a nearby monument that contains the heart of French Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the driving force behind the modern revival of the games.

The next runner was Laure Manaudou, a French swimmer who won three medals at Athens in 2004. She handed over to senior European Union official Margaritis Schinas, a Greek.

The first torch bearer, Greek olympic gold medalist Stefanos Douskos, right, passes the flame to first French torchbearer, three-time Olympic medallist Laure Manaudou, near the monument to Pierre de Coubertin, in the background, after the official ceremony of the flame lighting for the Paris Olympics, at the Ancient Olympia site, Greece, Tuesday, April 16, 2024. The flame will be carried through Greece for 11 days before being handed over to Paris organizers on April 26. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

The flame will travel from Athens’ port of Piraeus on the Belem, a French three-masted sailing ship built in 1896 — the year of the first modern games in Athens.

According to Captain Aymeric Gibet, it’s due on May 8 in the southern French port of Marseille, a city founded by Greek colonists some 2,600 years ago.

The Belem arrived in Katakolo, near Olympia, on Monday. Lookers-on included a small, enthusiastic group of tourists from the northwestern French region of Brittany, where the ship’s homeport of Nantes is, waving French and Breton flags.

Performers take part in the official ceremony of the flame lighting for the Paris Olympics, at the Ancient Olympia site, Greece, Tuesday, April 16, 2024. The flame will be carried through Greece for 11 days before being handed over to Paris organizers on April 26. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

“We thought it would be a unique opportunity to see the flame lighting at the historic site of Olympia,” said Jean-Michel Pasquet from Lorient, near Nantes. “And when we also learnt the Belem would carry the flame … we said we must do this.”

But Pasquet said he’d have to watch the Paris Games from home.

“For us, it would be really very expensive, unaffordable,” to go to the venues, he said. “So we’ll watch them on television … from our armchairs.”

___
By NICHOLAS PAPHITIS Associated Press

Performers take part in the official ceremony of the flame lighting for the Paris Olympics, at the Ancient Olympia site, Greece, Tuesday, April 16, 2024. The flame will be carried through Greece for 11 days before being handed over to Paris organizers on April 26. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)
Actress Mary Mina, playing high priestess, lights a torch during the official ceremony of the flame lighting for the Paris Olympics, at the Ancient Olympia site, Greece, Tuesday, April 16, 2024. The flame will be carried through Greece for 11 days before being handed over to Paris organizers on April 26. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)
A performer holds a ceramic pot with the flame during the official ceremony of the flame lighting for the Paris Olympics, at the Ancient Olympia site, Greece, Tuesday, April 16, 2024. The flame will be carried through Greece for 11 days before being handed over to Paris organizers on April 26. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)
Actress Mary Mina, playing high priestess, holds a ceramic pot with a flame lit the day before during the official ceremony of the flame lighting for the Paris Olympics, at the Ancient Olympia site, Greece, Tuesday, April 16, 2024. The flame will be carried through Greece for 11 days before being handed over to Paris organizers on April 26. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)
Actress Mary Mina, playing high priestess, right, holds a torch with the flame during the official ceremony of the flame lighting for the Paris Olympics, at the Ancient Olympia site, Greece, Tuesday, April 16, 2024. The flame will be carried through Greece for 11 days before being handed over to Paris organizers on April 26. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)
Performers take part in the official ceremony of the flame lighting for the Paris Olympics, at the Ancient Olympia site, Greece, Tuesday, April 16, 2024. The flame will be carried through Greece for 11 days before being handed over to Paris organizers on April 26. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)
Performers take part in the official ceremony of the flame lighting for the Paris Olympics, at the Ancient Olympia site, Greece, Tuesday, April 16, 2024. The flame will be carried through Greece for 11 days before being handed over to Paris organizers on April 26. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

RELATED

HOUSTON  — The Houston Texans agreed with wide receiver Nico Collins on a three-year extension worth up to $75 million with $52 million guaranteed on Tuesday.

Top Stories

Columnists

A pregnant woman was driving in the HOV lane near Dallas.

General News

NEW YORK – Meropi Kyriacou, the new Principal of The Cathedral School in Manhattan, was honored as The National Herald’s Educator of the Year.

Video

‘We Have Nothing.’ As Israel Attacks Rafah, Palestinians are Living in Tents and Searching for Food

DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip (AP) — The tent camps stretch for more than 16 kilometers (10 miles) along Gaza’s coast, filling the beach and sprawling into empty lots, fields and town streets.

ATHENS - While even state subsidies to buy electric cars haven't worked because they are still too expensive, those in Greece who have them - or hybrids with high-voltage battery charge levels more than 40 percent - won’t be allowed on ferry boats.

ROCHESTER HILLS, MI – Greek-American actor and musician John Stamos will be performing with The Beach Boys as a special guest during several of their upcoming concerts, MLive reported on May 21.

ATHENS - Rivals to Greece’s ruling New Democracy have demanded that Interior Minister Niki Kerameus resign in the wake of fines being assessed for violating the privacy of Diaspora voters in upcoming June 6-9 European Parliament elections.

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — After the International Criminal Court’s top prosecutor sought arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his defense minister and top Hamas officials, the Israeli leader accused him of being one of “the great antisemites in modern times.

Enter your email address to subscribe

Provide your email address to subscribe. For e.g. [email protected]

You may unsubscribe at any time using the link in our newsletter.