She then passed the flame to the first relay runner, Greek skier Apostolos Angelis, who ran with it for a short distance before handing over to former Manchester United soccer player Park Ji-sung, a South Korean.
From the verdant, rain-soaked valley of Ancient Olympia, where the Games of antiquity were held for more than a thousand years, the flame will course through Greece for eight days and reach South Korea on Nov. 1.
Despite tensions between the U.S. and North Korea — with which the south remains technically at war — organizers insist there is no fear for the Feb. 9-25 Winter Games.
“We want the international community to understand that we are committed to hosting a safe and secure” Games, organizing committee chief Lee Hee-beom said during Tuesday’s lighting ceremony.
The ski resort town of PyeongChang lies about 50 miles south of the world’s most heavily armed border that divides the two Koreas.
The International Olympic Committee has also stressed that there is no cause for concern. IOC president Thomas Bach made no direct reference to the tensions Tuesday, only saying during his speech that the Games “stand above and beyond all the differences that divide us.”
Normally, the flame-lighting ceremony involves the priestess offering a token prayer to the dead pagan gods of Olympia — a major ancient Greek sanctuary — before using a bowl-shaped mirror to focus the heat of the sun’s rays on her torch.
But with rain forcing officials to huddle under umbrellas, there was no hope.
“Sorry for the rain,” Greek Olympic Committee chief Spyros Capralos joked.
Dan Hicks and Rowdy Gaines covered swimming together at the last six Olympics, including every one of Michael Phelps‘ finals, but they’ve never called a “race” quite like this.
“We heard you were looking for something to commentate during the down time….might this short short short course 100 IM help?” tweeted Cathleen Pruden, posting a video of younger sister Mary Pruden, a sophomore swimmer at Columbia University, taking individual medley strokes in what appeared to be an inflatable backyard pool.
“Hang on,” Gaines replied. “This race of the century deserves the right call. @DanHicksNBC and I are working some magic!”
Soon after Tokyo Olympic qualifying events began getting postponed, the International Olympic Committee announced that all quota places already allocated to National Olympic Committees and athletes will remain with those NOCs and athletes.
The IOC repeated that position over the last week, after the Tokyo Games were postponed (now to open July 23, 2021). What does that mean for the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee?
Well, 76 athletes qualified for the U.S. Olympic team before the Olympic postponement was announced. That full list is here.
Those 76 athletes can be separated into two categories.
Athletes who earned Olympic spots BY NAME via International Federation (i.e. International Surfing Association or International Aquatics Federation) selection procedures.
Athletes named to the U.S. Olympic team by their national governing body (i.e. USA Swimming or USA Track and Field) and confirmed by the USOPC using NGB selection procedures after the NGB earned a quota spot.
When the IOC says “all quota places already allocated to National Olympic Committees and athletes will remain with those NOCs and athletes,” it means just that. USA Softball still has 15 athlete quota spots from qualifying a full team via international results. Surfer Kolohe Andino still has his Olympic spot from qualifying BY NAME via the International Surfing Association selection procedures route.
USA Softball named its 15-player Olympic roster last fall. Those 15 athletes did not earn Olympic quota spots for themselves. Unlike Andino (and 13 other American qualifiers across all sports), the 15 softball players had to be nominated by USA Softball and confirmed by the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee.
Unless and until the USOPC confirms that any of those other 62 athletes remain qualified, for now the list of U.S. Olympic qualifiers is these 14 who qualified BY NAME:
Modern Pentathlon (2)
Sport Climbing (4)
John John Florence