Olympic flame en route to Vancouver
The Olympic flame has begun its long journey from Olympia, Greece to Vancouver, Canada, where it will officially welcome the world’s best winter athletes participating in the 2010 Winter Games.
At a ceremony at Panathinaiko Stadium in downtown Athens, Greek officials entrusted the ever-burning flame to a Canadian delegation for the Vancouver Olympic Winter Games the evening of Oct. 29. The flame was then transported on a Canadian Forces CC-150 Polaris in a miner’s lantern to Victoria, BC where it will begin the longest domestic relay in Olympic history. The106-day journey across the second largest country in the world will wind through virtually every region of Canada.
“We entrust this sacred flame to our Canadian friends for safekeeping and wish them spectacular and successful Olympic Games as they welcome the world’s best winter athletes in 2010,” said Spyros Capralos, president of the Hellenic Olympic Committee (HOC), before passing the Olympic Flame to John Furlong, Chief Executive Officer of the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC).
“On behalf of all Canadians we accept the Olympic Flame with humility and respect,” said Furlong. “This moment marks the beginning of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Torch Relay and we take with us the knowledge that the flame represents much more than a sporting event. It embodies the values of peace, friendship and respect, and has the power to unite, inspire and bring harmony to the world.”
“After years of planning, the day the Olympic Flame arrives in British Columbia is now less than 24 hours away,” said Mary McNeil, BC’s Minister of State for the Olympics. “We’re planning a welcoming celebration like no other and the whole country is invited to count down the days with us through the torch relay until the flame arrives in Vancouver to light the Olympic Cauldron at the official opening of the 2010 Winter Games.”
The Olympic Flame will touch down in Canada at approximately 7:15 am (Pacific Time) on Friday, Oct. 30. It will be carried via a trio of traditional First Nations canoes for the start of the public welcoming ceremony in front of an expected crowd of thousands in Victoria, BC, at 9:30 am. The first torchbearer — whose name remains a closely guarded secret — will kick-off the official start of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Torch Relay after leaving the grounds of the British Columbia Parliament Buildings.
On Day 1 of the relay, the flame will visit 11 communities and places of interest in the Capital Regional District of the province and be carried by 147 torchbearers over 90 kilometers on foot, bike and boat.
“Forty-five-thousand kilometers and 106 days later, the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Torch Relay will end in Vancouver with the lighting of the Olympic Cauldron on February 12, 2010,” said Gregor Robertson, mayor of the Host City for the Games. “Along the way, 12,000 people will have proudly carried the Olympic Flame and brought Canadians and the entire world with them on their journey to our city. Vancouver is ready and waiting to welcome the world.”
The flame will travel to the Far North, becoming the first torch relay to bring the Olympic Flame within 900 kilometers of the North Pole through its stop in Alert, Nunavut, the world’s northernmost permanently inhabited community. The relay will then head to North America’s easternmost place, historic Cape Spear in St. John’s, Newfoundland before making a cross-Canada journey west to Vancouver.
“Mapping out this route, we wanted to include as many Canadians as possible,” said John Furlong, ChiefExecutive Officer, Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC). “It is our dream to unite this country and bring Canadians closer together to rediscover the many cultures and perspectives that make up our nation — to celebrate Canada. With Glowing Hearts we will share the Olympic Flame with young and old, northern and southern, eastern and western and everyone in between — no one left out. A truly unifying Canadian celebration.”
Included in its travels through hundreds of communities from coast to coast to coast, the Olympic Torch Relay will stop twice daily for special noontime and evening festivities to celebrate the diversity of the region, the people and their culture through the power and glow of the Olympic Spirit. Celebration communities have been chosen to allow entire regions to come together and be a part of the Olympic experience.
“The Olympic Torch Relay holds a unique place in people’s hearts. It not only marks the final countdown to the Games, building the excitement and expectation of people across the host nation and world as it winds its way towards the Host City,” said Jacques Rogge, President of the International Olympic Committee. “It also carries with it a message of peace and hope, transmitting the Olympic Spirit to all who come out and celebrate its journey. We wish the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Torch Relay well and are sure that by reaching the vast majority of Canadians and by allowing the world to see Canada and its people at their finest that the Vancouver 2010 relay will leave a lasting legacy to Canada and the Olympic Movement as a whole.”
For more information on the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Torch Relay visit http://www.vancouver2010.com/torchrelay.
By Nancy Merrill
Image by VANOC