Olympic flame handover ceremony marks transition from Greece to Paris 2024


Exactly three months before the Olympic Games begin, the Olympic flame has been handed over, transitioning from its Greek origins to the French stage, signifying the next chapter in its journey towards Paris. The ceremony, hosted by the Hellenic Olympic Committee, unfolded in Athens’ iconic Panathenaic Stadium, which hosted the first Olympic Games of the modern era in 1896, embodying a message of peace and unity.



The handover ceremony, concluding the 11-day Greek stage of the Olympic Torch Relay, saw the flame enter the stadium with Greek athletics Olympian Antigoni Ntrismpioti. She passed it to the French Olympic gold and silver medallist in figure skating, Gabriella Papadakis, who has Greek heritage, before it was then given to France’s multiple Paralympic swimming gold medallist Béatrice Hess. The ceremony culminated with the lighting of the Panathenaic Stadium cauldron by the high priestess, who received the Olympic flame from Greece’s Ioannis Fountoulis, an Olympic silver medallist in water polo.

Using the flames from the cauldron, the high priestess lit a final torch, passing it to Hellenic Olympic Committee President and International Olympic Committee (IOC) Member Spyros Capralos. He then presented the torch to the President of the Paris 2024 Organising Committee, Tony Estanguet, marking the official transition and beginning the final countdown to the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games Paris 2024 on 26 July.

This symbolic gesture represents not only the end of one journey but also the exciting start of another, as anticipation builds for the upcoming Games in France.

Speaking about the ceremony and looking towards the future, Capralos said: “It is with great joy and emotion that we all welcome the Olympic flame together here at the Panathenaic Stadium at the end of the Torch Relay on Greek soil, to hand it over to the Paris 2024 Organising Committee with a feeling of respect and solidarity, but also accompanied by our best wishes for the realisation of a unique event. An event that will succeed in shining the Olympic ideals to the whole world once again, but which will, above all, bring people together on a path of peace, solidarity and tolerance. Messages that are timelessly relevant, but are urgently needed today, as the challenges are visible now.”



The event in Athens was witnessed by thousands of spectators and numerous dignitaries, such as IOC Vice-President Ser Miang Ng, President of the Association of National Olympic Committees and IOC Executive Board member Robin Mitchell, Chair of the IOC’s Paris 2024 Coordination Commission and IOC Member Pierre-Olivier Beckers-Vieujant and the French Minister of Sports and the Olympic and Paralympic Games, Amélie Oudéa-Castéra. It also included a performance from iconic Greek artist Nana Mouskouri, who performed both the French and Greek national anthems.

The ceremony encapsulated the timeless spirit of the Olympic Movement and served as a poignant reminder of the values it represents, connecting the history and tradition of the ancient Olympic Games with the Games approaching this summer.

Paris 2024 President Tony Estanguet also spoke during the ceremony. Looking ahead to the prospect of this year’s Games he said: “With this ceremony and the Olympic flame being handed over from Greece to France, we are delighted to see the French winter, summer, Olympic and Paralympic families coming together: France is ready to host the Games! Thanks to French Olympic champion Gabriella Papadakis, whose origins symbolise the reunion between Greece and France, Béatrice Hess, the most decorated French athlete in the history of the Paralympic Games, and Florent Manaudou, France’s four-time swimming medallist, who will be the first torchbearer in the French part of the Torch Relay, the great adventure of the Torch Relay has been launched. After a wait of 100 years, the flame will soon reach France through Marseille. See you on 8 May!”


With the Greek stage now over, the Olympic flame will board the historic French three-masted ship, Belem tomorrow (27 April). The voyage across the Mediterranean will then begin, symbolising the enduring friendship between Greece and France. On 8 May, the flame will arrive in the port of Marseille, the oldest city in France, founded some 2,600 years ago by Greek sailors, heralding the start of celebratory festivities in the host nation.

Around 10,000 torchbearers will carry the Olympic flame over the course of 69 days. The relay route will pass through more than 450 cities across 65 regions in France, with special visits planned to six overseas territories: Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique, French Polynesia, Réunion and New Caledonia.

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