Athens, Oct 24 (IANS) The Olympic flame for the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics was lit on Tuesday in the ruins of ancient Olympia during a traditional ceremony ahead of its crossing through Greece before being transported to South Korea.
Rain prevented Greek actress Katerina Lehou from following the programmed rite to light the torch, forcing organisers to resort to a contingency plan, reports Efe.
Lehou was unable to light the torch with solar rays — the first such failure since 2000 for the Sydney Olympics.
The actress called on the ancient Greek god Zeus to bring peace to the world.
She was then tasked with delivering the torch to Greek skier Apostolos Angelis, who in turn passed it to the next torchbearer, South Korean former footballer Park Ji-sung, whose country will host the Games.
The Games are set to take place in February 2018 in the northern South Korean county of PyeongChang, at a time of escalated tension with North Korea.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach said the Games would teach the world that the values of shared humanity were stronger than forces that wanted to divide people.
Spyros Capralos, head of the Hellenic Olympic Committee, said PyeongChang 2018 was a unique opportunity to focus on peace and spread the Olympic spirit.
The event was attended by Greek President Prokopis Pavlopulos and South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon, who took advantage of his visit to Greece to meet with his counterpart Alexis Tsipras.
The torch will be sent on a week-long tour of the European nation before being flown to South Korea on November 1 — exactly 100 days before the Games start.
The torch will pass through the hands of some 7,500 torch-bearers during the traditional relay, expected to cover a distance of 2,018 km.
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