The flame for the second Winter Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway, was lit today in the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens, Greece. This marks the start of the Torch Relay which will travel across the whole of Norway, visiting all 19 provinces in a celebration of youth sports.
Following Olympic tradition, the Youth Olympic flame was lit by the sun’s rays reflected in a parabolic mirror, with a priestess from the Temple of Hera passing on the torch to the first relay runner in Athens’ ancient stadium – the home of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896. Four young athletes from Norway and Greece started the Torch Relay in the iconic stadium, before the Youth Olympic flame is transported to Norway.
A delegation from Norway attended the ceremony. It included Siri Hatlen, Chair of the YOG Organising Committee (LYOGOC); Tomas Holmestad, CEO of the YOG Organising Committee; Vegard Ulvang, representing the National Olympic Committee (NOC) of Norway, International Ski Federation (FIS) Cross-Country Committee Chairman and a former Olympic athlete and cross-country champion; and Grace Bullen, a young Norwegian athlete and former YOG champion in wrestling. Grace is an ambassador for the campaign “Klubben i mitt hjerte – the club in my heart”.
From Greece, the Deputy Minister for Sports, Stavros Kontonis; the General Secretary for Sports, Ioulios Synadinos; attaché of the Royal Norwegian Embassy, Roger Jorgensen; Greek NOC (HOC) President Spyros Capralos; HOC Secretary General Emmanuel Katsiadakis; as well as International Olympic Academy (IOA) President Isidoros Kouvelos all attended the ceremony.
“The lighting of the Youth Olympic flame is a major milestone for Lillehammer 2016. We’re getting so near the Games that we literally can feel the heat of it, and, with this flame being lit, we are ready to welcome the world to Norway,” said Tomas Holmestad, CEO of Lillehammer 2016 at the ceremony. “This Youth Olympic flame will not only raise awareness of the Lillehammer Youth Olympic Games, but it will also help us to highlight and celebrate the many young volunteers in Norwegian sports along its journey throughout Norway in the build-up to the Games.”
The flame will then start its journey, arriving at the Norwegian Parliament in Oslo tomorrow, 2 December where celebrations will take place. Afterwards, the Youth Olympic torch will travel across the whole of Norway, visiting all 19 provinces in a celebration of youth sports. Each province will nominate one young change maker, who will have the honour of lighting the Youth Olympic flame during the province’s Youth Olympic celebration. This will be done in partnership with local regional sports. The Youth Olympic flame will then arrive in Lillehammer, and the lightning of the cauldron during the Opening Ceremony of the 2nd Winter Youth Olympic Games on the night of 12 February will mark the beginning of the Games.