Chinese runner to make Olympic history in Greece March 1, 2008Posted by grhomeboy in Olympic Games.
Tags: Ancient Olympia, Greece, Olympic Games, Olympic Spirit, Sports
For the first time in Olympic history, a Chinese person will run the second leg of the torch relay in Ancient Olympia, Greece, where the flame will be lit, George Aidonis, the City’s Mayor, said on Friday in Beijing.
“There will be a few changes to the torch relay in Olympia this year, as a Chinese person will run the second leg, carrying the torch from the gate of the ruins to the Municipal Hall,” Aidonis, who is visiting Beijing this week, said.
The Olympic flame for the Beijing Games will be lit in front of the ruins of the Temple of Hera at 12 noon on March 24.
The lighting ceremony will start with the “High Priestess”, played by Greek actress Maria Nafpliotou. She will then pass the torch to the first runner, a Greek athlete, who will carry it to the temple gateway and pass it over to the Chinese runner.
“This will be the first time a torchbearer from the Games’ host country will take the flame from a Greek athlete and run the second leg,” Aidonis said. “The Chinese runner will be decided by the Chinese embassy in Greece and the Beijing Olympic organizing committee,” he said.
With the sacred ceremony now less than a month away, the Mayor said everything is in place, despite the fact the city is still trying to recover from a forest fire last year. “The preparations for the lighting ceremony are almost complete,” Aidonis said. “Olympia has a lot of experience of hosting the event,” he said, referring to the fact that the city has staged similar events every two years since 1936, to mark the start of both the summer and winter Olympics.
“The biggest problem for us this time has been dealing with the destruction caused by the fire. But the central government and municipal government in Olympia have taken a series of measurements to get the city back on its feet,” he said.
In August last year, massive forest fires ripped through the Peloponnese area of Greece, causing considerable damage to Olympia. In response, the Greek government launched an emergency tree-planting scheme around the city to restore the beauty of the site for the torch-lighting ceremony.
“The trees have now come into blossom, so I am confident the site will be back to its best in time for the sacred ceremony,” Aidonis said.
The Mayor has participated in every lighting ceremony since 1978, and said he expects this year’s to be something special. “It’s hard to describe the feeling you get when the Olympic flame is lit. It is a deeply heartwarming experience,” he said. “And seeing the flame lit for China, a country that has a long history and rich culture, just like Greece, will make the event even more special. “The Olympic spirit will spread rapidly around the world,” he said.
The flame will be handed over to the organizing committee of the Beijing Games at 3 pm on March 30 at the Panathenaiko Stadium in Athens, the city where the first Modern Olympics Games were held in 1896. After a reception ceremony in Beijing on March 31, the Olympic flame will begin its global tour on April 1.