MARSEILLE, France -- The Olympic flame is going for a sail.
Instead of arriving overland, the symbolic flame alighting the 2024 Paris Games will take to the seas from its birthplace in Greece, arriving aboard a three-mast tall ship in the French port of Marseille.
Paris organizers announced the flame’s journey on Friday at City Hall in Marseille, a former Greek colony founded 2,600 years ago.
According to tradition, the flame will be lit by the sun’s rays at a ceremony in Ancient Olympia. Then it will be carried by the Olympic torch to Athens and across the Mediterranean to the famed Old Port of Marseille, where the flame will be greeted by an armada of boats along the French coastline, organizers said.
It will travel to the Marseille marina — where Olympic sailing competitions will be based — and the Marseille stadium hosting Olympic soccer games.
After that it will be carried overland in the traditional torch relay, before arriving in Paris to light the cauldron and officially open the 2024 Games, which run from July 26-Aug. 11. The Paris Paralympics follow from Aug. 28-Sept. 8.
Friday’s announcement came as the general assembly of Ukraine’s National Olympic Committee met in Kyiv to discuss a possible boycott of Paris 2024 if Russian athletes are allowed to compete.
The International Olympic Committee last week sought to chart a path for athletes from Russia and Belarus who have not actively supported the war in Ukraine to join the Paris Olympics. That provoked strong objections from Ukraine, which wants those countries banned from most international sports.
Asked by the Associated Press about the issue, Paris 2024 organizing committee president Tony Estanguet declined to delve into what he said was a political decision.
“My job is to make sure that all athletes who want to participate will be offered the best conditions in terms of security, to offer them the chance to live their dream,” he said.
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