Apollo, God of the Sun, once again, generously sent his rays to light the Olympic Flame for the 22nd Winter Olympic Games “Sochi 2014” at the sacred site of Ancient Olympia.
The Ceremony, organized by the Hellenic Olympic Committee, was attended by thousands of spectators who took advantage of the beautiful weather and watched the birth of the sacred Light in the hands of the High Priestess Ino Menegaki, while the IOC President Thomas Bach also attended the ceremony, at his first Olympic journey after his election at the top IOC post.
The ceremony began with dozens of schoolchildren from the region forming the five Olympic rings and the choir of OTE sang the Olympic, the Russian and the Greek anthem. After the lighting of the Flame at the Temple of Hera, the Priestesses performed a dance at the Ancient Stadium, inspired by the Choreographer Artemis Ignatiou.
The High Priestess handed over the Flame to the first torchbearer, the skiing champion Yiannis Antoniou who ran inside the stadium and handed over the sacred Light to the second torchbearer, the Russian Alexander Ovechkin.
The Ceremony was also attended by the Undersecretary of State for Sport Mr. Ioannis Andrianos, who represented the government, the President of the International Olympic Academy Mr. Isidoros Kouvelos, and the IOC members Lambis Nikolaou, Vitaly Smirnov, Alexander Zhukov, Shamil Tarpischev, Alex Gilady.
The HOC President, Spyros Capralos stated in his speech: “Every time we revive the Lighting Ceremony, the emotions are so intense, the moments so unique that leave their mark on us for life. This ceremony symbolizes the spreading of a message of peace and fraternization to all mankind and this message is sent from here, Olympia, from Greece. We believe that sport and Olympism contribute to the amelioration of our world through initiatives of dialogue, reconciliation, mutual understanding and solidarity. This ceremony, the birth of this sacred Light, symbolizes in a unique way this message.
The Hellenic Olympic Committee has the pleasure and the honor to welcome, on this unique site for the Olympic Family, the President of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach, on his first Olympic trip following his recent election in Buenos Aires. We salute the worthy election of the Olympic champion Thomas Bach to the highest position of the Olympic movement and we wish him every success in his task. Dr. Bach’s thorough knowledge of Olympic issues and his dedication to the Movement, as well as his contribution to the Olympic Family, guarantee an excellent presidency.”
The IOC President stressed: “Pierre de Coubertin, whose heart is resting here in Ancient Olympia, rediscovered this unique gift of the Greek people to human culture after more than 1,500 years. He took the idea of the Olympic Games, breathed new life into it, developed it and, together with Greece, presented it to the entire world in 1896. This is why especially here, in Ancient Olympia, we feel the breath of cultural history. But we also feel our responsibility for the future of everything the Olympic Games represent in terms of their culture and values. The flame lit today by the Greek sun takes on this responsibility for a peaceful celebration here and now; the torches will carry it into the Olympic future. Thus the Olympic Torch Relay will be a messenger for the Olympic values of excellence, friendship and respect without any form of discrimination. In the coming months, this message will reach and inspire people from all walks of life. The goal and culmination of this journey will be the Olympic Stadium in Sochi on 7 February 2014. There, the Olympic flame will remind all the athletes, participants and spectators of our Olympic values”.