Paris 2024: Olympic Flame Arrives in France

The Olympic Flame for Paris 2024 arrives in Marseille, France, by ship after departing the Greek city of Piraeus on April 27th. Its arrival on Wednesday marks the beginning of celebrations and inaugurates the Olympic Torch Relay. For 10 weeks, more than 10,000 torchbearers, including sports icons, survivors of terror attacks, and a remarkable 102-year-old war veteran, will carry this symbolic flame. This relay stands as one of the longest relays in Olympic history.

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Actor Mary Mina poses as an ancient Greek high priestess and holds the Olympic torch in Athens before it sets sail for France

Arrival in Marseille

On Wednesday, a massive crowd of over 150,000 spectators and 6,000 police officers flooded Marseille. They gathered to welcome the Olympic flame arriving in France on a historic 19th-century ship. The flame completed its 12-day journey from Greece.

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French rapper Jul holds the Olympic torch after lighting the Olympic and Paralympic torch relays cauldron in Marseille

Longest Olympic Torch Relay

The Olympic torch will travel through more than 400 French towns and territories before the Paris Olympic Games opening ceremony on 26 July. This includes Guadeloupe, Martinique, New Caledonia, and Réunion. Other notable locations on the itinerary include Mont Saint-Michel, the Normandy beaches of the D-day landings, and the space center at Kourou in French Guiana.

Torch Relay to Unite the Nation

“The torch is magical for its symbolism and for those who carry it,” said the French sports minister Amélie Oudéa-Castéra. She felt the relay would mobilize all French people to get behind the games at Paris 2024.

French president Macron tweets on the arrival of the Olympic Flame

Criticism from Marseille’s City Hall

Two officials from Marseille’s left-leaning city hall, Sébastien Berles and Aicha Seef, wrote an open letter to the Daily Libération, warning of the torch relay’s costs, high security and environmental impact. They believe it is a distraction from important issues like the “climate crisis and defending democracy and social security.”

Diverse Torchbearers

Stars carrying the torch remain secret, including the Paris opening ceremony. However, Lassana Bathily, a former supermarket worker who sheltered customers in a 2015 terrorist attack, will carry it. Melanie Berger-Volley, 102, a Resistance member, will in the Loire. In Nice, Stéphane Erbs, who lost his wife in a 2016 attack, will participate. In Paris, Ludovic Francechet, a popular garbage collector promoting environmentalism, will carry the torch.

Paris City Hall reported online hate messages against Minima Gesté, a drag queen torchbearer, to prosecutors.

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Minima Gesté celebrates LGBTQIA+ inclusion in an official Paris video: “It would not have been possible 10 years ago”

Authorities already condemned “numerous homophobic and transphobic” comments that were posted online. The Paris mayor, Anne Hidalgo, said: “Paris is proud that a drag queen will carry the flame and carry our values of peace and humanity.”

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Arpita Patra
Arpita Patra
Junior Editorial Assistant

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