Youth Olympic Flame begins journey from Greece to Singapore

The Journey of the Youth Olympic Flame got under way today in Olympia, Greece, with the lighting of the flame at an official ceremony outside the famed Temple of Hera.

Using the sun’s rays and a parabolic mirror, a holy priestess lit the flame before entering the Ancient Olympic Stadium and passing the torch to the Journey’s first torchbearer, Apostolos Koutavas, who will represent Greece in trampoline at the Youth Olympic Games.

In the 22 days leading up to the first-ever Youth Olympic Games in Singapore, some 2,400 torchbearers will take the flame to all five continents in a journey designed to promote the Olympic values of excellence, friendship and respect among the youth of the world.

The Journey of the Youth Olympic Flame, under the initiation of the Singapore Youth Olympic Games Organising Committee, will arrive in Berlin on 24 July before moving on to Dakar (26 July), Mexico City (30 July), Auckland (1 August) and Seoul (4 August). A six-day torch relay beginning 5 August is planned for the final destination, Singapore, where the Youth Olympic Games will take place from 14 to 26 August.

“It is a proud and special moment to have witnessed the Youth Olympic Flame being lit for the first time,” said International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge. “It is our hope that young people around the world will feel the spirit of the Youth Olympic Games, symbolised in the Journey of the Flame and embrace its message of friendship and respect.”

Also at the lighting ceremony were Singapore 2010 Chairman Ser Miang Ng, IOC Coordination Commission Chairman for the 1st Summer Youth Olympic Games Sergey Bubka, Hellenic Olympic Committee President Spyros Capralos, Youth Olympic Games Ambassador Yelena Isinbaeva, and others.

“It is an honour to witness the birth of a new initiative for young people,” Mr Ng said. “Although the lighting ceremony dates back more than 2,000 years, the Olympic values of excellence, friendship and respect that the flame represents are still relevant today.

“We hope the Journey of the Youth Olympic Flame will connect young people around the world to the Olympic Movement, and inspire them to live by its values. And we look forward to welcoming the world to Singapore in August for the first Youth Olympic Games.”

The Youth Olympic Flame will be used to light the cauldron to start the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games on 14 August.