‘Olympic flame to burn near Louvre during Paris Games’

Published March 28, 2024
People walk through the Tuileries Garden in Paris, on March 27, 2024. The Olympic flame is set to burn in the Tuileries Garden for the duration of the Paris Games in July and August — AFP
People walk through the Tuileries Garden in Paris, on March 27, 2024. The Olympic flame is set to burn in the Tuileries Garden for the duration of the Paris Games in July and August — AFP

PARIS: The Olympic flame is set to burn in the Tuileries Garden in front of the Louvre museum for the duration of the Paris Games in July and August, a source involved in the discussions told AFP.

The decision to place the Olympic cauldron in the tourist hotspot in the centre of the city was taken “several weeks ago”, the source said on condition of anonymity.

“The Tuileries emerged as the first choice because of the ease of access for the public,” the source said.

There had been speculation that the flame might be placed on the Eiffel Tower, while organisers also contemplated putting it in the courtyard of the Louvre, the world’s biggest museum, the source said.

The Tuileries “is an area that can be easily secured. There will be security forces on duty round the clock to protect the flame and the general public will be able to see it thanks to the raised footpaths around the garden,” the source added.

The lighting of the cauldron is a key moment during the Olympics opening ceremony, signalling the formal start of the global sports extravaganza.

It was unclear if the cauldron would be lit inside the Tuileries or whether it would be transferred there after the unprecedented opening ceremony on July 26, which is set to take place on boats along the nearby river Seine.

The identity of the person given the honour of lighting it remains unknown, while details about the opening ceremony – which will take place outside of the athletics stadium for the first time – are a closely guarded secret.

Organisers have vowed to make the first Olympics in Paris in 100 years “iconic”.

SYMBOLIC LOCATION

Asked about the cauldron, the Paris organising committee said in a statement to AFP that “we will not confirm or deny any of the reports that are circulating. There have already been a lot of rumours on its location.” Organisers want the cauldron to be “placed in the heart of Paris for its symbolism and so that it is visible for everyone,” the statement added.

The Paris Games are set to take place at locations around the capital, including at temporary stadiums by the Eiffel Tower and on the Place de la Concorde which abuts the Tuileries Garden.

The park was designed in 1664 at the behest of the so-called “Sun King” Louis XIV and is closely associated with the defunct French royal family, as well as the anti-monarchist Revolution of 1789.

The torch relay for Paris 2024 will begin on April 16 when a flame is taken from Olympia in Greece before being transported by sea to Marseille in a three-masted 19th-century French tall ship called the Belum.

The flame is then set to travel through 400 French towns and dozens of tourist attractions during a 12,000-kilometre (7,500-mile) journey over the mainland and overseas French territories in the Caribbean, Indian Ocean and Pacific.

At the last Covid-disrupted Olympics in Tokyo in 2021, the hydrogen-powered cauldron was lit by tennis star Naomi Osaka inside the eerily empty main athletics stadium during the opening ceremony.

A second one was placed on the waterfront near Tokyo Bay.

Published in Dawn, March 28th, 2024

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