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Olympics-Paris 2024 Olympics flame sets sail for France in final relay leg

The Paris 2024 Olympic flame sailed for France on Saturday on board a three-masted ship to mark the final sprint of preparations ahead of the Olympic Games opening ceremony on July 26.
 
The “Belem” left the port of Piraeus in the morning for an 11-day voyage and will arrive in the southern city of Marseille, founded by the Greek settlers of Phocaea around 600 BC, on May 8.
 
Paris Games organisers had received the flame on Friday in a ceremony at Athens’ Panathenaic stadium, site of the first modern Olympics in 1896, following last week’s lighting in ancient Olympia that kicked off an 11-day Greek relay leg.
 
After a brief ceremony in Piraeus on Saturday the vessel set sail for France.
 
An estimated 150,000 spectators are expected to attend the ceremony at the Old Port of Marseille, which will host the Olympic sailing competitions and be the start of a 68-day French torch relay across the country.
 
The last torch bearer in Marseille will climb on the roof of the Velodrome stadium on May 9 and the relay will end in Paris on July 26 with the lighting of the Olympic cauldron during the Games’ opening ceremony along the Seine river.
 
Organisers hope the opening ceremony, in which 160 boats carrying athletes from around the world will travel a six kilometre route towards the Eiffel Tower, will deliver a jaw-dropping spectacle.
 
Some 300,000 spectators will watch from the banks as a global audience tunes in on TV, and with security forces in the country on high alert with the Games taking place against a backdrop of wars in Ukraine and Gaza.
 
The French government has asked around 45 foreign countries to contribute several thousand extra military, police and civilian personnel to help safeguard the Paris Olympics.
 
(Reuters)
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Last Updated: 19th May 2024