ATHENS: On the eve of 100 days to go, the flame for the Olympic Games Paris 2024 has been lit. It was ignited at the historic birthplace of the Olympic Games in Ancient Olympia in Greece.

The Olympic flame, embodying peace and hope, will now journey across Greece before coming to France. After arriving in Marseille on 8 May, it will travel across the entire country, and some French overseas territories, arriving at the Opening Ceremony in Paris on 26 July.

Amongst the dignitaries attending this historic event today were International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach, President of the Hellenic Republic, Her Excellency Katerina Sakellaropoulou, the Vice President of the European Commission, Margaritis Schinas, Paris 2024 Organising Committee President, Tony Estanguet, President of the French National Olympic Committee and IOC Member, David Lappartient, the IOC Members in France, Guy Drut and Jean-Christophe Rolland, the French Minister of Sports and the Olympic and Paralympic Games, Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, the Chair of the IOC’s Paris 2024 Coordination Commission, Pierre-Olivier Beckers Vieujant and the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo.

In his speech, in front of thousands of people, President Bach highlighted Paris 2024’s dedication to upholding the Olympic values and fostering global unity. He said: “The Olympic Games are the only event that brings the entire world together in peaceful competition. The Olympic athletes send this powerful message: yes, it is possible to compete fiercely against each other and at the same time live peacefully together under one roof. The athletes will shine and show us what greatness humans are capable of with all their excellence, determination and resilience.”

He continued: “This power of sport will make the Olympic Games Paris 2024 a great symbol of human excellence and unity of all humankind in all our diversity. These expectations are shared by billions of people around the world. In these difficult times we are living through, with wars and conflicts on the rise, people are fed up with all the hate, the aggression and negative news they are facing day in and day out. In their hearts – in all our hearts – we are longing for something which brings us together. We are longing for something that is unifying. We are longing for something that gives us hope.”

President Bach also spoke of the unified commitment to the success of Paris 2024, praising the innovative spirit of the Organising Committee, expressing confidence in France’s preparations and acknowledging the growing anticipation ahead of this summer’s Games.

He said: “This Olympic flame will carry this Olympic spirit from here, our ancient roots, through all of France and finally to Paris – making the City of Light shine even brighter. The Olympic flame will shine over the first Olympic Games inspired by our Olympic Agenda reforms from start to finish. These Olympic Games will be younger, more inclusive, more urban, more sustainable. These will be the very first Olympic Games with full gender parity, because the IOC allocated exactly 50 per cent of the places to female and male athletes.”

The ceremony also provided an opportunity to acknowledge the work being done by Paris 2024, together with stakeholders from the sporting, political and social sectors in France, in realising an important objective of Olympic Agenda 2020: creating a legacy well before the Olympic competitions have even started. Paris 2024’s concept of delivering “Games Wide Open” has engaged millions of people already by promoting physical activity, education, inclusion, equality and sustainability.

Paris 2024 Organising Committee President Tony Estanguet also spoke at the ceremony, sharing the collective anticipation of the host nation. He said: “France is ready to welcome the Olympic Games, a hundred years after the last summer edition on our soil. It is with great pride and honour that we will be hosting the Olympic Games in the country of their founder, Pierre de Coubertin, where we keep a very strong and special link with Olympism. After the first participation of women in the Games at Paris 1900 and the creation of the first Athletes’ Village for Paris 1924, we are ready to write a new chapter in the great Olympic history with the third Games in Paris, France. We want to thank the IOC and Thomas Bach for the enduring help and support, all these years, which have allowed us to conceive and create Games that are not only spectacular, but also more responsible, notably from an environmental point of view, which will make them all the more exceptional. Together, we will organise great Games, and it starts today, with the Olympic Torch Relay!”

The lighting ceremony, held at the Temple of Hera, paid homage to the Olympic Games’ Greek heritage, reinforcing the profound link between ancient traditions and the modern Games. The flame was kindled by the high priestess and, along with an olive branch symbolising peace, was passed to the first torchbearer.

This honour was given to Greek rower, Tokyo 2020 Olympic gold medallist Stefanos Douskos, who then passed it on to Laure Manaudou, the first French torchbearer on Greek soil and an Olympic champion at Athens 2004. The flame will now travel onwards, first embarking upon an 11-day journey across Greece, during which the flame will be carried over 5,000 kilometres, through 43 municipalities.

The Olympic flame will then be passed on to the Paris 2024 Organising Committee at an official handover ceremony in the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens before it boards the historic French three-masted ship, Belem. It’s voyage across the Mediterranean will then begin, a journey reflecting the enduring friendship between Greece and France, arriving in the port of Marseille on 8 May, marking the beginning of celebratory festivities in the host nation.

Around 10,000 torchbearers will then carry the Olympic flame over the following 69 days. The route will take them through around 400 cities, across 65 regions in France, and includes visits to six overseas territories (Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique, French Polynesia, Réunion and New Caledonia).

To rewatch the full Olympic flame lighting ceremony, watch on

More information about the Olympic Torch Relay can be found here.

The Olympic Games Paris 2024 begin on 26 July and will continue until 11 August. Thereafter, the Paralympic Games will take place from 28 August until 8 September.