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Olympic Flame lighting ceremony to be held without spectators

Olympia Olympic Flame Lighting Ceremony

Actress Katerina Lehou, right, as high priestess, lights the torch during the lighting ceremony of the Olympic flame in Ancient Olympia, southwestern Greece, on Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017. The flame will be transported by torch relay to Pyeongchang, South Korea, which will host the Feb. 9-25, 2018 Winter Olympics. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)


The Olympic Flame lighting ceremony will be held Thursday in Olympia, Greece, without spectators due to coronavirus concerns.

Greece’s Olympic committee made the decision after a Monday meeting, taking into account the coronavirus situation in Greece.

The flame lighting ceremony, always held in the ancient Olympic site of Olympia, will be attended by 100 accredited guests from the International Olympic Committee and the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee, according to a press release.

It was previously announced that Wednesday’s dress rehearsal will be closed to the public.

For the first time, a woman will be the first Olympic torch relay torchbearer -- Rio shooting gold medalist Anna Korakaki.

The Olympic Flame will spend eight days in Greece before being flown to Japan to start a 121-day trek leading to the July 24 Opening Ceremony. The Japanese part of the relay begins in the tsunami-affected prefecture of Fukushima.

“We urge the mayors of the cities through which the Olympic Flame will pass or stay overnight to follow the instructions of the Ministry of Health and the National Public Health Organization,” Greece’s Olympic committee said in the release. “The Hellenic Olympic Committee will continue to monitor the situation and, depending on developments, will make decisions, always with a view to protecting public health.”

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