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Olympics-Paris 2024 flame to be lit on April 16, relay to visit overseas territories


By Julien Pretot

PARIS (Reuters) -The Paris 2024 Olympic Games flame will be lit on April 16, marking the countdown to the July 26-Aug. 11 event in the French capital, organisers said on Friday, confirming an earlier Reuters story.

The flame will be lit at Greece’s ancient Olympia, the birthplace of the Games, and will remain in the country until its departure to France from Athens on April 27.

It will arrive in Marseille on May 8.

The torch relay will stay in metropolitan France – notably going through Montpellier, Corsica, Bordeaux and the Mont Saint Michel – until June 7, when it will leave the port city of Brest by boat for a relay in France’s overseas territory. It will return to mainland France by boat on June 18.

“It’s going to be spectacular and will showcase all our territories,” Paris 2024 president Tony Estanguet said at a ceremony at the French capital’s Sorbonne university.

The flame will then travel through Strasbourg, Reims and Lille among others before a relay in Paris on July 14-15 – which will go through the Pantheon and the National Assembly and Senate (the lower and upper houses of parliament) – with some 400 towns being visited in total.

In a traditional ceremony at the site of the ancient Games, an actress playing a high priestess lights the torch for every Games — summer or winter — using a parabolic mirror before passing the flame to the first torchbearer at the edge of the ancient Olympic stadium in Olympia.

Following a brief domestic relay in Greece the flame is then handed over to the host city.

Paris organisers have said they will use a three-masted ship the ‘Belem’ to take it the port city of Marseille, where the sailing competitions of the Olympics will take place.

Usually the flame, held in a safety lantern, is flown by plane to the Olympic Games host city.

Marseille, founded by the Greek settlers of Phocaea around 600 BC, is the starting point of the French leg of the relay.

Paris 2024 organisers have been planning to install the Olympic flame on the Eiffel Tower, a source with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters last month.

Friday’s ceremony provided organisers with a moment of respite after their headquarters were raided by police as part of a preliminary investigation into alleged corruption on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Julien Pretot and Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Toby Davis)

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