(ATR) The flame for the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang is now in the care of South Korea.
Hours after a ceremony in the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens transferred the Olympic flame from Greece to South Korea, the flame took off for Seoul aboard a chartered Korean Airlines flight.
The transfer ceremony ended the customary week-long relay around Greece that follows the flame lighting ceremony that was held Oct. 24 at Ancient Olympia.
Weather for the Athens ceremony was far more comfortable than the rainy conditions for the traditional ceremony in Olympia. About 5000 people filled the rows of marble seats for the ceremony that began at 11 a.m., early for such ceremonies, normally held late in the afternoon.
The President of the Greek Republic, Prokopis Pavlopoulos attended the ceremony along with other government officials and members of the diplomatic corps.
U.S. Ambassador toGreece Geoffrey Pyatt exchanged tweets with Hellenic Olympic Committee President Spyros Capralos.
Here we go! The #TorchRelay concludes in Athens - congratulations @HellenicOlympic @SpyrosCapralos & good luck to the athletes of @TeamUSA pic.twitter.com/yL93wpBNDQ— Geoffrey Pyatt (@USAmbGreece) October 31, 2017
Thank you @USAmbGreece. It was a great pleasure to welcome you and I appreciate your enthusiasm and support. https://t.co/FaBRQa1mLA— Spyros Capralos (@SpyrosCapralos) October 31, 2017
Capralos handed the lighted torch to POCOG President Hee Beom Lee to signify the transfer of custodyof the flame to the South Korean organizers.
Speedskater Ki-Hoon Kim, the first Korean to win a gold medal at the Olympic Winter Games, took the flame from Lee to begin the Korean relay.
The flame will travel the 12 hours to Seoul in a collection of safety lamps aboard the KAL flight. Arrival time in Seoul is set for 10 a.m. on Nov. 1, 100 days to the first Winter Olympics to be held in South Korea.
The Olympic Torch Relay will travel through every major city in Korea.
Coca-Cola, Samsung and KT are the presenting sponsors of the relay.
More than 3000 athletes from as many as 95 countries are expected for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics Feb. 9 to 26. The Winter Paralympics take place March 9 to 18.
Reported by Ed Hula.