Following a moving handover ceremony in Athens on Tuesday 31 October and a ten-hour flight, the Olympic flame has arrived in the Republic of Korea, 100 days before the start of PyeongChang.
The flame landed at Incheon International Airport at 10 a.m. local time on Wednesday 1 November, and promptly embarked on the Olympic Torch Relay that will take it around the host country before eventually arriving in PyeongChang for the Opening Ceremony of the XXIII Olympic Winter Games on 9 February 2018.
There were hundreds of people waiting to greet the flame as it touched down. Flickering inside two safety lanterns, it was carried from the plane by the Republic of Korea’s Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Do Jonghwan, and Olympic figure skating gold medallist and national idol Yuna Kim.
Kim then joined the Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea, Lee Nak-yon, in lighting the cauldron to signal the start of the Olympic flame’s journey to PyeongChang.
Addressing the crowd, Lee Hee-beom, the President of the PyeongChang Organising Committee for the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (POCOG), expressed his delight at the Olympic flame’s arrival: “The Olympic flame is here and we are just 100 days away from the start of the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang.
“Our dream has become a reality, and today is a very important and proud symbol of our work and passion in bringing one of the most exciting winter sporting events ever to our country. I hope that over the next 100 days we really can ‘let everyone shine’. We want the Olympic Torch Relay to connect you to the Games, and ignite passion and excitement in every corner of Korea.”
The ceremony held to mark the flame’s arrival featured both Korean b-boy break dancing and traditional Korean music, a combination that reflects the mix of culture, tradition and technological innovation that PyeongChang will celebrate.
Korean singer and PyeongChang Honorary Ambassador Insooni brought the ceremony to a close by performing the Olympic Torch Relay song Let Everyone Shine, which is also the official slogan for the Relay.
The Olympic flame then began its marathon journey around the country. The honour of being the first torchbearer of the PyeongChang Olympic Torch Relay fell to 13-year-old figure skating prodigy You Young, who ran the first 200 metres on Incheon Bridge before handing over to comedian and television personality Yoo Jae-suk.
Describing the experience, You, who was only 11 when she won her maiden national championships in 2015, said: “I feel very proud today to have been chosen as the first torchbearer for the PyeongChang Olympic Torch Relay. It is my dream to represent my country at an Olympic Winter Games and I am working hard to make that dream a reality very soon.
“I am really excited that I will get to watch some of the world’s best athletes compete here for the Games, and I know that they will really inspire me and that this will be an experience I will never forget.”
You and Yoo are the first of 7,500 torchbearers who will carry the Olympic flame on a 2,018-kilometre journey around the Republic of Korea over the next 100 days, through 17 cities and provinces and on many different modes of transport that have been chosen to represent the country’s past, present and future.
On day two of the Olympic Torch Relay, the flame will travel from Incheon to Jeju Island.
The PyeongChang Olympic Torch Relay has three Presenting Partners: Worldwide TOP Partner Coca-Cola, which continues its long-standing support for Olympic torch relays, Worldwide TOP Partner Samsung and local Partner KT. For further information, please visit the PyeongChang website.