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Olympic Flame lit in Olympia, torch relay for Tokyo Games starts

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The Tokyo Olympic torch relay began in Olympia, Greece, on Thursday at the traditional Olympic Flame lighting ceremony, held with limited attendance due to coronavirus concerns.

“We are especially grateful that you made today’s ceremony possible, even under difficult circumstances,” IOC President Thomas Bach said in a speech, thanking the Greek Olympic Committee president at the site of the Ancient Olympics. “This demonstrates once more our commitment to the success of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. Nineteen weeks before the Opening Ceremony, we are strengthened in this commitment by the many authorities and sports organizations around the world who are taking so many significant measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus.”

On Monday, it was announced that the lighting ceremony would be held without spectators and attended by a limited, 100 accredited guests from the International Olympic Committee and Tokyo 2020.

The ceremony was capped by Greek Olympic shooting champion Anna Korakaki becoming the first woman to be the first torchbearer of an Olympic torch relay, which was first held for the 1936 Berlin Games.

Korakaki, a Rio gold medalist already qualified for the Tokyo Games, then passed the flame to Japan’s 2004 Olympic marathon champion Mizuki Noguchi.

The Olympic Flame will spend eight days in Greece before being flown to Japan for a 121-day trek through the country leading up to the July 24 Opening Ceremony cauldron lighting.

The Japanese part of the relay begins in the tsunami-affected prefecture of Fukushima, with the first torchbearers being members of the 2011 Women’s World Cup champion team.

“Given the unprecedent circumstances the world is facing, the health and safety of the thousands of torchbearers, spectators and staff will be the first priority along the route of the Olympic Torch Relay both in Greece and Japan,” the IOC said in a press release.

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Olympic Flame lighting ceremony set for Olympia; TV, live stream info

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The Olympic Flame will be lit in Olympia, Greece, to start the Tokyo Olympic torch relay on Thursday, live on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA.

Coverage of the ceremony begins at 5:30 a.m. ET on TV and streaming on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app for subscribers.

The Olympic torch relay traditionally begins at the ancient Olympic site of Olympia several months before the Opening Ceremony (on July 24 this year). The lighting ceremony, first held for the 1936 Berlin Games, uses the sun’s rays and a concave mirror.

Via the Greek Olympic Committee: “According to the ritual, the High Priestess proceeds to the lighting at the Temple of Hera (Heraion) which is opposite to the Temple of Zeus, at the archaeological site of Olympia. There, the High Priestess, calls the God of Sun Apollo to light the torch, making a prayer.”

A Greek athlete is traditionally the first torchbearer. This year, it’s Rio Olympic shooting gold medalist Anna Korakaki, who will become the first woman to be the first torchbearer.

Japan’s 2004 Olympic marathon champion Mizuki Noguchi will be the second torchbearer, according to Tokyo 2020 officials.

The lighting ceremony will be held without spectators due to coronavirus concerns. It will be attended by 100 accredited guests from the International Olympic Committee and Tokyo 2020.

The Olympic Flame will spend eight days in Greece before being flown to Japan for a 121-day trek through the country leading up to the Opening Ceremony cauldron lighting.

The Japanese part of the relay begins in the tsunami-affected prefecture of Fukushima, with the first torchbearers being members of the 2011 Women’s World Cup champion team.

MORE: U.S. athletes qualified for Tokyo Olympics

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Olympic Flame lighting ceremony to be held without spectators

Olympia Olympic Flame Lighting Ceremony
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The Olympic Flame lighting ceremony will be held Thursday in Olympia, Greece, without spectators due to coronavirus concerns.

Greece’s Olympic committee made the decision after a Monday meeting, taking into account the coronavirus situation in Greece.

The flame lighting ceremony, always held in the ancient Olympic site of Olympia, will be attended by 100 accredited guests from the International Olympic Committee and the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee, according to a press release.

It was previously announced that Wednesday’s dress rehearsal will be closed to the public.

For the first time, a woman will be the first Olympic torch relay torchbearer — Rio shooting gold medalist Anna Korakaki.

The Olympic Flame will spend eight days in Greece before being flown to Japan to start a 121-day trek leading to the July 24 Opening Ceremony. The Japanese part of the relay begins in the tsunami-affected prefecture of Fukushima.

“We urge the mayors of the cities through which the Olympic Flame will pass or stay overnight to follow the instructions of the Ministry of Health and the National Public Health Organization,” Greece’s Olympic committee said in the release. “The Hellenic Olympic Committee will continue to monitor the situation and, depending on developments, will make decisions, always with a view to protecting public health.”

MORE: U.S. athletes qualified for Tokyo Olympics

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