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Paris 2024 Olympics to feature 10,000 torchbearers

By EARLE GALE in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2023-06-02 10:01
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The opening ceremony for the 2024 Summer Olympics, in Paris, France, will feature the conclusion of a procession of the Olympic flame that will involve 10,000 torchbearers.

The Games, which will also be known as Paris 2024, will be held in July and August next year and feature an opening ceremony concentrated on and around the River Seine that runs through the capital.

French news agency Agence France-Presse, or AFP, said the Olympic flame will be taken from Olympia, Greece, to Marseille, France, on the sailing ship Belem. People, both individually and in groups, will then carry it across France before it arrives in the capital on July 26.

Officials said each torchbearer will carry the flame for around 4 minutes, for a distance of about 200 meters.

Tony Estanguet, president of the Paris 2024 organizing committee, said the location of the cauldron that will hold the flame for the duration of the Games has not yet been decided.

"The Eiffel Tower has not been decided as the lighting location for the cauldron," AFP quoted him as saying after speculation mounted that it was the ideal site.

The opening ceremony will include athletes being transported on decorated boats along the Seine for 6 kilometers. The ceremony will be free to attend and organizers are expecting around 600,000 people to line the route.

The official hub for the opening ceremony will be a 30,000-seat arena that will be built in the Trocadero — a park that stands next to the Seine and near the Eiffel Tower.

Organizers have said they want the Paris 2024 opening ceremony to be the most "spectacular and accessible … in Olympic history".

Police officers and other security services will protect the flame and the torchbearers during their journey across France, and organizers have said they are mindful of threats posed by terrorists and others who might want to use the high-profile event for their own ends.

Paris has hosted the Olympic Games twice before and Paris 2024 will mark the centenary of the first time it did so — back in 1924.

The procession of the Olympic flame from Greece, where it burns permanently, to the site of each Olympic Games is a long-cherished part of the sporting competition that is held every four years. However, the procession was scaled back significantly ahead of the 2021 Summer Olympics — in Japan — because of restrictions due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. And it was similarly scaled back for the 2022 Winter Games — in Beijing, China.

The largest torch procession ever was held in 2008, when 20,000 torchbearers were involved in transporting the flame to Beijing in a procession that took the flame overland, on a 130-day journey of more than 136,000 kilometers.

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