Youth Olympic Flame lit for the 1st Winter Youth Olympic Games
17 December 2011
At 12:00 midday on Saturday 17 December, the Youth Olympic Flame was lit in the Panathinaiko Stadium in Athens – the venue of the first Modern Olympic Games in 1896 – ahead of the first ever Winter Youth Olympic Games, which will take place in Innsbruck 27 days from now.
“It is an honour to become the first city in the world to welcome the Olympic Family for a third time,” commented Austrian sports minister, Norbert Darabos, Austrian Olympic Committee President, Karl Stoss, and Chairman of the Innsbruck 2012 Supervisory Board, Richard Rubatscher.
Having hosted the Winter Olympic Games in 1964 and 1976, Innsbruck will welcome 1,059 athletes aged 15 to 18 from over 60 nations for a total of 63 Medal Events at the first ever Winter Youth Olympic Games between 13 and 22 January 2012. The Austrian Olympic Committee will be represented by 80 young athletes.
As is traditional, the Flame was kindled by concentrating the sun’s rays using a parabolic mirror. It was then passed by a Priestess of the Temple of Hera to the first torchbearer, 17-year-old Carlos Pecharromán della Torre from Madrid. He won the chance to pick up the Flame in Athens by participating in the Virtual Torch Relay, which is still running on Facebook. As well as a 16-strong delegation from the host country, led by Federal Minister Darabos, IOC President Jacques Rogge was also present at the ceremony. “Flames and torches symbolise the Olympic Values of Excellence, Respect and Friendship,” explained Rogge. “We want the Torch Relay to spread enthusiasm for the Winter Youth Olympic Games along its journey.”
Kept in three separate containers for safety, the Flame was flown from Athens to Innsbruck immediately after the ceremony using a Hercules C-130 belonging to the Austrian Armed Forces. From 27 December 2011 until the Opening Ceremony on 13 January 2012 the Youth Olympic Torch will be carried 3573km across Austria by 2012 Torch Bearers. During the Games the Flame will be transferred from Bergisel Stadium, home to the Olympic Cauldrons used in 1964 and 1976, to Maria-Theresien-Straße in the heart of the city, where it will stay until the Closing Ceremony.
Chairman of the Innsbruck 2012 Supervisory Board, Richard Rubatscher, president of the Hellenic Olympic Committee (HOC), Spyros Capralos, and IOC President, Jacques Rogge, at the lighting of the Youth Olympic Flame.
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