Spectators from around the world watch Olympic Flame lighting ceremony at Ancient Olympia

(16 Apr 2024)
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ASSOCIATED PRESS
Olympia, Greece – 16 April 2024
1. Various of Olympic torch bearer in main street of Olympia
2. Greek, French and Olympic flags
3. SOUNDBITE (English) Cheryl Selby, from Olympia, Washington:
"I feel very hopeful for the future, as I do every time they light the flame and they light it in peace. And all the priorities of the Olympics come to life again. And I wish it was every year that we had this ceremony. But enjoying it as we can every two years, and I think in this era that we’re in as a world, the values of the Olympic Games have never been more important."
4. Wide of people in main street
5. Country flags in street
6. Sign reading (English): "Paris 2024"
7. SOUNDBITE (English) Daniel Sabot, from Paris:
"Something like proud because we know that the renewal of the Olympics were started with the French guy – Pierre de Coubertin, so it’s always a bit of French history even if we share this with the Greeks. So it’s a good communion."
8. Wide of people in main street
9. Close of Greek and French flags
10. SOUNDBITE (English) Christina Warnke, from Washington DC:
"The whole ceremony is quite, it’s just so beautiful. I’m so impressed. As I said last night to a group of women in America, I said the light of the torch is going to shine on America and the world because we need peace. And today it was incredible. And for me, peace is now what we need. And I think this here in this beautiful ancient city of Olympia, is the symbol of peace and democracy to the world."
11. Various of main street full of people after torch lighting ceremony
12. Paris 2024 flag
STORYLINE:
The flame for this summer’s Paris Olympics was lit at the birthplace of the ancient Olympic Games in southern Greece in a meticulously choreographed ceremony on Tuesday.

Cloudy skies prevented the traditional lighting, when an actress dressed as an ancient Greek priestess uses the sun to ignite a silver torch — after offering up a symbolic prayer to Apollo, the ancient Greek sun god.

Instead, she used a backup flame that had been lit on the same spot Monday, during the final rehearsal.

From the ancient stadium in Olympia, a relay of torchbearers will carry the flame along a 5,000-kilometre (3,100-mile) route through Greece, including several islands, until the handover to Paris Games organisers in Athens on April 26.

After the ceremony, visitors commented on the message of peace the flame carries.

"The light of the torch is going to shine on America and the world because we need peace…And I think this here in this beautiful ancient city of Olympia, is the symbol of peace and democracy to the world," said Christina Warnke, a visitor from Washington DC.

"I feel very hopeful for the future, as I do every time they light the flame and they light it in peace…I think in this era that we’re in as a world, the values of the Olympic Games have never been more important," said Cheryl Selby, a visitor from Olympia, Washington.

Greek authorities maintained high security around Olympia on Tuesday, after protests by rights activists disrupted the lighting ceremonies for the Beijing summer and winter games.

Armed police stopped incoming vehicles and checked for explosives, while sniffer dogs combed the grounds.

AP video shot by Srdjan Nedeljkovic

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