Apr 16, 2024 - Sports

In Photos: 2024 Olympic flame is lit during countdown to Paris games

Two people are photographed during the torch lighting ceremony. A woman, dressed in a black and white sleeveless dress, is releasing a bird. A man, dressed in all white, holds the torch behind her.

A white dove is released as Stephanos Ntouskos, first Greek torchbearer holds the Olympic Flame following the flame lighting ceremony for the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics at the Ancient Olympia archeological site on April 16 in Olympia, Greece. Photo: Milos Bicanski/Getty Images

The Olympic flame for the summer games was lit on Tuesday during a ceremony in Ancient Olympia, Greece.

The big picture: The flame is now making its way to Athens during an 11-day relay, after which it will be handed off to the organizing committee of the Paris games.

  • The 2024 Olympic games will begin on July 26.

How it works: A Greek athlete is traditionally the first torchbearer, followed by a representative from the host nation.

  • On Tuesday, Stefanos Ntouskos, a Greek rower, handed the flame off to Laure Manaudou, a French swimmer.
  • "Apollo, God of sun, and the idea of light, send your rays and light the sacred torch for the hospitable city of Paris," a performer said during the ceremony. "And you, Zeus, give peace to all peoples on Earth and wreath the winners of the sacred race."

What's next: From Athens, the flame will cross the Mediterranean Sea to Marseille aboard a three-masted ship.

  • It will also reach French territories including Guadeloupe, Guyana, Martinique, French Polynesia, New Caledonia and Reunion Island as part of an "oceans relay."
  • In France, the flame's route includes national parks, forests and lakes.

Zoom out: The tradition has existed for nearly 90 years, the AP reported.

  • The flame will light a cauldron in the host city in the Olympic stadium until the end of the games. It is then used for the Paralympics.
  • Fire was a sacred element to ancient Greeks.
Several women stand in long black and white strapless dresses. In the front, one is kneeling and lighting the torch, held by another who is standing. About nine people are standing in the background with arms outstretched to either side.
Greek actress Mary Mina, playing the role of the High Priestess, holds the torch during the flame lighting ceremony. Photo: Milos Bicanski/Getty Images
A packed audience views the flame lighting ceremony.
Spectators view the Olympics ceremony on April 16. Photo: Socrates Baltagiannis/Getty Images
A man stands at a lectern giving a speech to a crowded audience outdoors.
Tony Estanguet, president of the Paris 2024 Organizing Committee, delivers a speech during the ceremony. Photo: Socrates Baltagiannis/Getty Images
An actress as a priestess and the first torchbearer pass the flame. Other actresses stand in the back.
The first torchbearer, Stefanos Ntouskos, receives the flame from Greek actress Mary Mina. Photo: Socrates Baltagiannis/Getty Images

Go deeper: No more COVID bans: Free condoms in abundance at Paris Olympics

Go deeper