At the Olympic Torch lighting ceremony at Ancient Olympia, Greece (AFP/Getty Images) © Copyright
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Olympic torch lit at Olympia


The Olympic Torch officially began its journey to Tokyo after the traditional flame lighting ceremony in Olympia, Greece, on Thursday (12).

Held near the Temple of Hera, the traditional ceremony celebrates the Olympic Games Greek heritage, reaffirming the connection between the modern Games and their historic origins.

The Olympic Torch officially began its journey to Tokyo after the traditional flame lighting ceremony in Olympia, Greece, on Thursday (12).

First held in 1936, the ceremony takes place near the Temple of Hera, the oldest temple at Olympia, to celebrates Olympic Games Greek heritage, reaffirming the connection between the modern Games and their historic origins.

"The Olympic Torch Relay in Greece is the origin of so many wonderful episodes and stories, and I very much hope that the torch relay that begins today will engender many dreams and aspirations, and bring hope for tomorrow," said Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee acting President Toshiaki Endo.

Following the ceremony, the torch began its journey with Anna Korakaki of Greece, a 2016 Olympic champion in shooting, marking the first time that a woman served as the first Olympic relay torch bearer. Korakaki passed it on to Japanese distance running legend Noguchi Mizuki, the winner of the women’s marathon at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.

 

Anna Korakaki,  Rio 2016 shooting gold medallist, receives the Olympic flame during the flame lighting ceremony in ancient Olympia (AFP/Getty Images)Anna Korakaki, Rio 2016 shooting gold medallist, receives the Olympic flame during the flame lighting ceremony in ancient Olympia (AFP/Getty Images) © Copyright

 

The flame will spend the next eight days on a tour of Greece before being flown to Japan where it will begin a 121-day trek around Japan on 26 March. Around 10,000 torchbearers will carry it through all of the host country's 47 prefectures, incorporating 859 local municipalities, before arriving in Tokyo for the Opening Ceremony on 24 July.

About 100 guests attended the scaled down ceremony that was held without spectators due to coronavirus concerns.

Bob Ramsak for World Athletics