Olympic Flame handed over to Paris 2024

Flame to leave on Saturday for Marseille aboard ‘Belem’
/ New Delhi
Olympic Flame handed over to Paris 2024

On Saturday, the Flame will be put aboard the Belem, a three-mast ship that will sail to Marseille

11 days after it was lit, the Olympic Flame has officially been handed over to Paris 2024 team at an event in Athens. The flame will leave for Marseille on Saturday, aboard a three-mast sailing ship.
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Following the Olympic Flame Lighting Ceremony on April 16 in Olympia and after 11 days of relay across Greece, the Olympic Flame has officially been handed over to Paris 2024. 

According to a press statement issued by the Organising Committee of Paris 2024, during the ‘Handover Ceremony’ at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens, Spyros Capralos, President of the Hellenic Olympic Committee, entrusted the Flame to Tony Estanguet, President of Paris 2024.

The statement adds that Béatrice Hess and Gabriella Papadakis, selected by Coca-Cola, one of the sponsors of the Torch Relay, took turns alongside Greek athletes to light the cauldron. 

On Saturday, the Flame will be put aboard the Belem, the famous three-masted ship for which Caisse d’Epargne is the main sponsor, bound for Marseille. In the hands of Florent Manaudou, one of the most emblematic Olympians of his generation, the Flame will arrive in France.  

Florent Manaudou

Florent Manaudou

The organisers say that to bring the Flame back to France it was obvious to choose an Olympian who has left a lasting impression and who better for that honour than ace swimmer Manaudou, a four-time Olympic medallist in one of the Games’ most prestigious disciplines, has given the French some of the most powerful images in the history of sport.

Already a Captain of the Torch Relay alongside his sister Laure, Dimitri Pavadé and Mona Francis, Florent will be the first to carry the Olympic Flame in France. The symbolism is all the more powerful given that Laure was the first torchbearer 10 days ago in Olympia, Greece.

‘‘I am delighted to be the first torchbearer in France. Carrying the Flame after my sister, who has already had this honour at Olympia in Greece and doing it in a city to which I am very attached, Marseille, means all the more to me. I can’t wait to be in the Vieux Port and celebrate with the public the return of the Games to France, after one hundred years!,’’ says Manaudou.

The statement adds that organised by the Hellenic Olympic Committee, a key moment in the Torch Relay, the Handover Ceremony symbolises the friendship and respect between the Greek and French peoples. For the occasion, the French Embassy and the French Institute of Greece worked together to organise the ceremony, which featured breakdance, the new Olympic discipline for Paris 2024. Dancers from The Olympic Cypher kicked off the performance, before 150 students from the Eugène Delacroix Franco-Hellenic High School continued with the Danse des Jeux!

Alongside Greek athletes selected by the Hellenic Olympic Committee, two French champions were chosen for their exceptional achievements and accompanied the Olympic Flame on its final metres of the Relay in Greece.

Beatrice Hess

Béatrice Hess

Béatrice Hess, a Paralympic swimmer who competed at the highest level from 1984 to 2004, was the last French torchbearer on Greek soil. A five-time medallist at the 2004 Athens Games, she is one of the most successful athletes in the history of the Paralympic Games, with 26 medals to her name.

Gabriella Papadakis, an ice dancer whose father is of Greek origin, has been selected by Coca-Cola, one of the Official Sponsors of the Paris 2024 Torch Relay. She forms a famous duo with her partner Guillaume Cizeron, with whom she began skating at the age of 9. Silver medallists at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, they went on to win gold in 2022 at the Beijing Olympics.

‘‘What an honour to carry the Flame on this historic occasion! It’s all the more special for me because I have a strong bond with this country, where my sporting career took a decisive turn. Carrying the flame on the soil of Athens, where the 2004 Games were held, brings back many memories and emotions. When I think back, 20 gold medals in a 20-year career, and that was 20 years ago! The symbolism is powerful. I’m very proud to have represented France at this Handover Ceremony, which heralds the arrival of the Olympic Flame and the Games in France!,’’ says Béatrice Hess.

Gabriella Papadakis

Gabriella Papadakis

‘‘It is a very symbolic moment for me. My father is Greek and my mother is French. Carrying the Olympic Flame to Athens crystallises my personal history with these two countries. I’m honoured to have represented all the values that this flame represents, here in the cradle of Olympism. I would like to thank Coca-Cola for giving me this unique opportunity, which I will always remember,’’ says Gabriella Papadakis.

On Saturday, April 27, the Flame will board the famous three-masted ship of the Fondation Caisse d’Epargne, led by Aymeric Gibet, captain of the Belem since 2016. 15 young French Forerunners, selected by the Caisses d’Epargnes régionales, will join the Belem’s professional crew to accompany the Olympic Flame from Piraeus to Marseille.

While waiting for the Flame to arrive in Marseille, the Aix-Marseille Metropolitan Authority is organising two festive and unique evenings to build up Marseille’s fervour. The first, entitled “Marseille-Athens”, takes place this evening and puts the Handover Ceremony in the spotlight. The programme includes a show featuring 800 drones accompanied by sound, light and pyrotechnics.


Tony Estanguet

‘‘Thank you to the Hellenic Olympic Committee and its President, Spyros Capralos, for this magnificent start to the Olympic Torch Relay in Greece! During these eleven days across the country, we have already been able to see some very powerful images, and all the attachment the Greeks have for the Flame. And now, what a proud and emotional moment it is to officially receive the Olympic Flame at the Handover Ceremony!,’’ says Tony Estanguet, President of Paris 2024.

‘‘A big thank you also to our champions Gabriella Papadakis and Béatrice Hess for being at our side to play this powerful and symbolic role as Forerunners of the Paris 2024 Torch Relay. After a hundred years of waiting, in twelve days’ time the Flame will be back in France via the port of Marseille. A huge thank you to Florent Manaudou, one of the most emblematic Olympians of his generation and Captain of the Relay, for accompanying us on this new adventure. We can’t wait!,’’ adds Estanguet.

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