Athens, Greece (International Olympic Committee), Dec 18, 2011: Innsbruck 2012, The flame for the first Winter Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck, Austria, was lit today in Athens, marking the first time in modern Olympic history the flame has been lit for three Olympic events taking place in the same city. In addition to hosting the Youth Olympic Games from 13 to 22 January 2012, Innsbruck previously hosted Olympic Winter Games in 1964 and 1976.
Following Olympic tradition, the Youth Olympic flame was lit by the sun’s rays reflected in a parabolic mirror, with a priestess from the Temple of Hera passing on the torch in Athens’ ancient Panathinaiko Stadium to the first relay runner. Attending the ceremony, along with International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge, were Austrian Sports Minister Norbert Darabos, Austrian Olympic Committee President Karl Stoss, Innsbruck 2012 CEO Peter Bayer and Chairman Richard Rubatscher, Chairman of the Innsbruck 2012 Coordination Commission and President of the International Ski Federation Gian-Franco Kasper, Chairman of the Olympic Torch Relay Commission Spyros Zannias, and President of the Hellenic Olympic Committee Spyros Capralos.
“The Flame and Relay symbolise the values and ideals that lie at the heart of the Olympic Movement,” President Rogge said at the ceremony. “They embody excellence, friendship and respect and they are the spark that will ignite the passion and magic of the first Winter Youth Olympic Games. At its essence, the Youth Olympic Torch Relay will inspire new hopes and new dreams, particularly among young people, and encourage the world to experience the Youth Olympic Games along with the athletes.”
The flame will now travel from Greece to Austria, where the Innsbruck 2012 Youth Olympic Torch Relay will make its way across the country from 27 December to 13 January 2012, the date of the Opening Ceremony in Innsbruck’s iconic Bergisel Stadium. The stadium has already been fitted out with a special Youth Olympic Games cauldron for the flame, which sits next to the cauldrons from 1964 and 1976.
The flame will be carried by 2,012 torchbearers on its 18-day journey around Austria, passing through many of the country’s most famous places, including a stop in the capital city, Vienna, in time for the New Year’s Eve celebrations.
Picture © IYOGOC/GEPA Pictures Walter Luger