The Olympic flame has begun its journey to the North Pole, as part of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Torch Relay. The Arctic expedition will see the Olympic flame travel more than 5,000km over 15 days, as it makes its way from the northwest Russian port of Murmansk to the North Pole and back again, onboard a special 160m-long icebreaker.
"The North Pole special project makes the Sochi 2014 Olympic Torch Relay truly unique,” said Dmitry Chernyshenko, Sochi 2014 President, following the flame’s departure. “The Olympic flame will be lit and carried for the first time at the North Pole. I am certain that this symbolic Olympic journey will offer the world an opportunity to enjoy the breathtaking and extraordinarily delicate beauty of the planet's most northern point."
Throughout its journey, the Olympic flame will be kept lit inside a special lantern, while the North Pole leg of the relay will be conducted both on board the icebreaker and on the ice cap itself, with the official Lighting Ceremony taking place at the Geographical North Pole.
Renowned Arctic and Antarctic explorer Artur Chilingarov is leading the expedition, supported by Torchbearers from the other Arctic nations, who have significantly contributed to the study of the Arctic and the conservation of its natural resources, animals and ecology.
"It is the first time in history that the Olympic flame will visit a place known as the ‘top of the world’,” said Chilingarov. “It is a meeting point of longitudinal meridians and time zones, where the very concept of time loses all meaning. I believe that carrying the Olympic flame to this very place is highly symbolic given that the Olympic values have endured for hundreds of years."
The Sochi 2014 Olympic Torch Relay began in Moscow on 7 October and will end at the Sochi 2014 Opening Ceremony on 7 February, having travelled approximately 65,000km around Russia, carried by more than 14,000 Torchbearers.
Find out more about the Sochi 2014 Olympic Torch Relay Presenting Partners at http://torchrelay.sochi2014.com/en/partners
More information on the Sochi 2014 Olympic Torch Relay can be found at http://torchrelay.sochi2014.com/en/