2024 Olympic Games: the Olympic flame handed over by Greece to the French organizers, Florent Manaudou first bearer

The baton has been passed

2024 Olympic Games: the Olympic flame handed over by Greece to the French organizers, Florent Manaudou first bearer

The baton has been passed. The flame of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, lit on April 16 in Olympia, was handed over on Friday April 26 by Greece to Tony Estanguet, president of the organizing committee, during a ceremony at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens, which hosted the first Olympic Games of the modern era in 1896. Before that, the flame had made a morning stopover at the emblematic venue of Marathon, some 42 kilometers from Athens, after having traveled 5,000 kilometers across the Greece, relayed by 600 people on islands and archaeological sites, including the rock of the Acropolis of Athens.

On the occasion of this ceremony, Tony Estanguet announced that swimmer Florent Manaudou would be the first bearer of the flame upon his arrival in the Marseille city. “It was obvious to us that the flame would return to France in the hands of an Olympian, one of the most emblematic of his generation,” said Tony Estanguet during his speech, before receiving the flame from hands of Spyros Capralos, president of the Hellenic Olympic Committee.

“How lucky to have one of the most legendary siblings in French sport for this wonderful adventure,” he added, referring to the fact that his older sister, Laure Manaudou, had been the first French torchbearer at Olympia on April 16. The flame is now due to board the three-masted Belem on Saturday to reach Marseille on May 8, where it will begin its journey across France.

The flame will be under high security for its arrival in Marseille, with 6,000 members of the police mobilized. From the Ganteaume military fort, overlooking the Old Port, through which the flame will pass, the Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, presented a device which, according to him, "never existed" in France's second city. In fact, counting the agents dependent on the town hall (firefighters, security personnel, municipal police officers, etc.), the workforce will reach 8,500 people and will therefore exceed those deployed in September 2023 for the visit of Pope Francis - a system which had then been described as “out of the norm” and “exceptional”.

Arrival of the flame in Marseille among a thousand boats

Twelve days before an event which aims to be "secure but popular", in the words of the minister, six units of mobile forces are already deployed in the city for security which will "increase in power" until the arrival of the flame, aboard the three-masted Belem, around 7:45 p.m., Wednesday, May 8.

The objective is to make the Old Port district completely “watertight”, with the mobilization in particular of RAID police officers, deminers, nautical brigades or an anti-drone device. Many plainclothes police officers will also be in the crowd, which could reach 150,000 people, according to estimates. These spectators will have to undergo a pat-down, and the 4,000 boats moored at the Old Port will all be cleared of mines.

Before its entry, the Belem will parade throughout the harbor of Marseille, surrounded by a flotilla of 1,024 boats. These boats registered to accompany the famous sailboat will have all been inspected and "cleared", access to the sea will be "barriered" and the beaches will be closely monitored, the minister also insisted. If the Marseille corniche will not be pedestrianized, as first envisaged, a part will be “secure” so that “everyone can see the flame as best as possible”, promised the mayor of Marseille (various left), Benoît Payan. For the hypothesis where the wind would be greater than 25 knots and would prevent the Belem from entering the Old Port, Mr. Darmanin assured that there would be “an alternative”.

Then, on May 9, the flame will begin its journey in France with a stroll through Marseille, which will begin with the Notre-Dame de la Garde basilica to pass through the city of Castellane, the native district of Zinédine Zidane, and end with the The emblematic Stade-Vélodrome. She will then cross the country, via the Antilles and French Polynesia, and arrive in Paris on the day of the opening ceremony of the Games, July 26. The Olympics will be held until August 11, in a tense international climate marked in particular by the conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East.