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Olympic flame arrives in South Korea 100 days ahead of 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics

Olympic flame arrives in South Korea 100 days ahead of 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics

The Olympic flame arrived in South Korea on Wednesday, 100 days ahead of the opening ceremony for the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang County.

Ambassador Kim Yu-na, right, and Do Jong-hwan, head of South Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, carry the Olympic flame at the Incheon International airport

The 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics flame began its journey from Greece to South Korea on Tuesday after it was officially handed over to the organizers of the PyeongChang Winter Games at the handover ceremony held at the Panathenaic stadium in the center of Athens.

At the marble venue of the first modern Olympics in 1896, Hellenic Olympic Committee President Spyros Capralos passed the Sacred Flame to the President of the PyeongChang Games Organizing Committee Lee Hee-beom.

The South Korean delegation departed under the applause of thousands of Greek schoolchildren who attended the event along dignitaries braving the low temperatures.

Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos, the Vice-President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans, the European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos and international Olympic movement representatives were among the crowd that sent off the Flame with warm wishes for success at the Feb 9-25 Games.

“We are handing over, today, the Olympic Flame, so that you carry it to your distant but most beautiful country and so that it keeps sending the messages of peace, friendship and fraternity throughout its journey,” Capralos said before handing the torch to Lee Hee-beom.

“We are honored that the PyeongChang Winter Games represents the second time the Olympic Flame will be in Korea, since the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympic Games,” the President of the Organizing Committee “PyeongChang 2018” said addressing the event.

“The slogan of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Torch Relay, ‘Let Everyone Shine’, means the Olympic flame will shine for each and everyone’s dream, passions and future anytime and anywhere…The PyeongChang 2018 will be an Olympics of peace and harmony,” he stressed.

The friendship connecting people across borders was underlined during performances of dance and music shows by Greek children and South Korean artists who opened Tuesday’s event.

Local youth choirs sang the national anthems of Greece and South Korea as well as the Olympic anthem as the Greek, and South Korean and Olympic flags were hoisted.

Spectators cheered when Kim Ki-hoon, veteran South Korean Olympic champion in short track speed skating, entered the stadium and passed the Flame to the last Torchbearer, Greek champion in alpine skiing Yannis Proios, who lit the cauldron. Proios has qualified for the February Games.

The event at Panathenaic stadium marked the end of the first leg of the Torch Relay on Greek soil, which had started on October 24 at ancient Olympia when the Sacred Light was ignited by the sun’s rays during a ritual ceremony at the birthplace of the Olympics.

The second leg of the Relay across South Korea will cover 2,018 kilometers before reaching the main venue for the opening ceremony of the Games after 100 days.

Ambassador Kim Yu-na and South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon light the cauldron with the Olympic flame at the Incheon International airport in Incheon

A total of 2,900 athletes from 95 countries and regions will participate in the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, according to the organizers.

The Olympic flame is displayed at the Incheon International airport in Incheon, South Korea

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