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Olympic Nazi torch

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Featured image: English: Paavo Nurmi lights the fire at the Olympic games in Helsinki 1952.

Excitement is mounting in the run-up to the Summer Olympics , which begin in Paris at the end of July. But old Olympic traditions are already in full swing: This week, the Olympic flame was ignited during a choreographed ceremony in Olympia, Greece. The torch is now on its way to Paris, where it will arrive in time for the opening ceremony on July 26.

The history of the tradition is complicated. Although the relay was inspired by ancient Greek practices, it was first held in Germany, where the Nazis used it as a propaganda tool. Today, these dark roots are no longer associated with the event, which is meant to “represent the host country and the spirit of the Games,” according to the International Olympic Committee . The connection to ancient Greek traditions remains.

During Tuesday’s torchlight ceremony, actors dressed in long black and white dresses gathered in front of spectators. Greek actor Mary Mina, who performed the role of “high priestess,” ignited the torch in front of the ruins of the temple of Hera. (Traditionally, a parabolic mirror used to light the fire by concentrating the sun’s rays. But because the weather was cloudy, Mina used a spare flame from a fuel-filled torch instead.)

Mina then ignited a torch held by Greece’s Olympic rowing champion, Stefanos Ntouskos. He passed the fire to Laure Manaudou, three-time Olympic swimming champion of France, who then turned it over to Margaritis Schinas, vice president of the European Commission.


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