Cloudy skies overshadowed the traditional ceremony in which a performer dressed as an ancient Greek priestess ignites the silver torch with the sun.  Instead, a spare flame lit in the same spot during the final rehearsal was used to ignite the torch.

Actress Mary Mina, playing the high priestess, ignites the torch with the flame lit the day before during the official ceremony for the Paris Olympics at the site of Ancient Olympia.

The ancient Olympic tradition of the kustal fire burning during the games was first revived at the Berlin Games in 1936.

"The Olympic Flame Is A Symbol Of Hope"

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach made a speech at the ceremony where the fire was lit.

In his speech, Bach stated that the increasing war conflicts make people tired of the hatred, aggression and negative news they face every day and said: "We are longing for something that will bring us together, unite us and give us hope. The Olympic flame we light today is a symbol of this hope."

Bach pointed out that this year's games will create two new milestones in Paris, which will host the Olympic Games twice before. 

"The Olympic flame will shine on the first Olympic Games inspired from start to finish by our Olympic Agenda reforms," he said.

Secondly, "These Olympic Games will be younger, more inclusive, more urban and more sustainable. They will be the first Olympic Games with full gender equality, as the IOC has allocated a full 50 percent of places to male and female athletes."

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Tony Estanguet, chief organizer of the Paris Olympics, recalled that women took part for the first time in the Paris 1900 Games. 

Torch Relay

With the lighting of the flame, the torch's three-month tour until the opening ceremony on July 26 began.

After touring Greece for 11 days, the torch will be officially handed over to the organizers of the Paris Games on April 26 at the Panathenaic stadium in Athens, where the first modern games were held in 1896.

The next day, the torch will sail to France on the three-masted ship "Belem" and 150,000 people are expected to welcome it at a ceremony in the Old Port of Marseille on May 8.

Marseille, founded by the Greek settlers of Foça around 600 BC, will host the Olympic sailing competitions.

Ten thousand people will carry the torch through 64 French regions across mainland France and overseas French territories in the Caribbean, Indian Ocean and Pacific before it reaches the center of the Paris Olympics opening ceremony. During its 12,000-kilometer journey, it will pass through 400 towns and dozens of tourist attractions.

The 68-day torch relay in France will end in Paris with the lighting of the Olympic flame during the opening ceremony in July.