The carefully-choreographed ceremony is led by an actress posing as an ancient Greek priestess who lights the flame using a a bowl-shaped mirror to focus the heat of the sun’s rays on her torch. She will then pass it on to Korakaki.
The torch relay will course through Greece for a week before the flame is handed over to Tokyo organizing officials at a ceremony in Athens. The last torchbearer in Greece will also be a woman — Greece’s Katerina Stefanidi who won the pole vault at Rio.
Greece’s national Olympic committee president Spyros Capralos said Korakaki’s selection was a “historic” moment.
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.
The Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA will stream live coverage of the Olympic flame lighting ceremony on Tuesday at the ancient Olympic site of Olympia in Greece.
Coverage on OlympicChannel.com and the Olympic Channel app starts at 5 a.m. ET.
The flame lighting is the traditional beginning of the Olympic torch relay. The first torch bearer, traditionally a Greek, will be cross-country skier Apostolos Angelis, who has already qualified for PyeongChang.
The second torch bearer will be retired South Korean soccer star Park Ji-Sung, who played at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and seven seasons for Manchester United.
The flame will later fly from Greece to Incheon International Airport near Seoul for a 101-day trek through South Korea before the Feb. 9 Opening Ceremony in PyeongChang.