Rio 2016 Olympic Flame is lit in Greece

·         The Rio 2016 Olympic Flame was lit this afternoon (Thursday) in Olympia, Greece, marking the start of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games celebration.

·         The ceremony included speeches from Carlos Arthur Nuzman, president of the Rio 2016 Organising Committee, and Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee.

·         Before speaking, Mr. Nuzman paid tribute to Brazil by kissing the Brazilian flag.

·         At the end of his speech, Mr. Bach gave thanks in Portuguese: Thank you very much to our carioca friends and all Brazilians.

·         In perfect weather, the flame was lit by sun rays in the temple of Hera, Olympia, by Katerina Lehou – a Greek actress who played the role of High Priestess, dressed in costume by compatriot and stylist Eleni Kyriacou, a pupil of Alexander McQueen.  

·         The lighting of the flame was followed by a dance ritual from the priestesses, a choreography from Artemis Ignatiou accompanied by music from composer Giannis Psimadas.

·         The ceremony continued with the start of the Rio 2016 Olympic Torch Relay on Greek land.

·         The Rio 2016 Olympic torch was lit for the first time by Greek gymnast Eleftherios Petrounias, who last week won the silver medal at the artistic gymnastics test event in Rio de Janeiro.

·         He was the first bearer to run with the torch, crossing the Ancient Stadium and reaching the Pierre de Coubertin monument.

·         Petrounias handed the Olympic Flame to Giovane Gávio. The former volleyball player and two-time Olympic champion was the first Brazilian to carry the Rio 2016 Olympic torch.

·         The relay continues across Greece, including the ancient city of Marathonas, travelling over 2,000km.


·         In total, there are over 450 torchbearers in Greece, including a Syrian refugee, whose name has not yet been publicised. He will carry the torch in the area with the most refugees and migrants, called Eleonas, in the west of Athens.

·         The torch will arrive in Athens on Wednesday, 27 April, in the Panathenaic Stadium, where the historic Athens 1896 Games took place. On Wednesday, the Greek leg of the relay will close with a show by Greek pop star Sakis Rouvas.

·         On this day, the Olympic Flame will officially be handed to Rio 2016.

·         Two days later it will head to Geneva, Switzerland, for a ceremony at the United Nations. On Sunday, 30 April, the flame will be taken to the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, where the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee are based.


Carlos Arthur Nuzman, president of the Rio 2016 Organising Committee for the Olympic Games.

“It’s an honour to live this dream. The dream of the Olympic Games in Rio, the first in South America. We will remember this time forever. The Brazilian Olympic Games start today with the lighting of the Olympic Flame which symbolises hope for all of us. It brings the light of peace and the spirit of the Olympic Truce. It also brings a message that can and will unite our dear Brazil, a country that is experiencing challenging times in the search for a brighter future. Rio is ready to make history. We are extremely proud to have come so far.”


Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee

“We are gathered today on the sacred sites of Olympia, where Greek civilization celebrated the Games for the first time. While the world gets ready to join together in Rio de Janeiro for the XXXI Olympic Games, we are reminded of the power of sport in uniting people. From here, the Olympic Flame will spread the Olympic values of tolerance, solidarity and peace to all Brazilians and all people around the world. Together with our friends from Brazil, we are writing history. For the first time, the Olympic Games will be staged in South America. Rio de Janeiro will provide a spectacular setting to show the best of the human spirit. In a few weeks, the Brazilian people will embrace the world with enthusiasm and surprise us with their joy for life and their passion for sport.”


Giovane Gávio, former volleyball player and two-time Olympic Champion, the first Brazilian torchbearer

“To receive the torch here in this sacred place was unique, and I’m moved. It was one of those moments that remains in the memory, the sensation that the world has stopped. I knelt, I ran and I had fun. I’m here representing athletes and to inspire Brazilians. These Games are Brazilian and we have to experience this intensely. Sport can not only be made up of medal winning, together with education it can change lives. This is the grand legacy that the Games will leave for our country.”

The Rio 2016 Olympic Torch Relay is sponsored by Coca-Cola, Nissan and Bradesco.

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