Tuesday , 16 July 2024

Panathenaic vs Olympic Flame. The big showdown is continuing by Konstantinos Antonopoulos

We are only a few days before the commencement of the Winter Youth Olympic Games "Lillehammer 2016" which will be hosted in Norway from 12-21 February 2016. Organized by the Hellenic Olympic Committee two months earlier, on December 1, 2015, the Lighting Ceremony provided the Flame of the Games which passed from the hands of the High Priestess Katerina Lehou to the first Torchbearer, athlete of skiing George Karakasis. The Flame already many days is traveling to every corner of Norway and will burn during the Games next to the flag with the Five Olympic Rings. Although it was lit according to the traditional way, this Flame has no origin from Ancient Olympia, as the Olympic Charter requires, (Article 13) and also explicitly is stated to the official website of the Hellenic Olympic Committee, but the Panathenaic Stadium of Athens.

It was not the first time that the sacred tradition and the official Charter of the IOC were circumvented. Olympia, the womb that gave birth to the Games and the ideals of Olympism with its prestige and sanctity should be the exclusive donor of the Olympic Flame. On several occasions in recent years, the “Panathenaic” Flame which was kindled at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens has replaced the Olympic Flame in major Olympic events, such as the Youth Olympic Games and the European Olympic Youth Festivals. Despite the assurances by the officials, in their effort to appease the reasonable reactions and protests by the Municipality of Ancient Olympia and of the local society of Elis, that the “Panathinaic” Flame will not be called "Olympic", every time the story ends with the organisers and the wide audiences considering it as the Olympic Flame.

The official representatives of the Olympic Movement and the Hellenic State in their speeches refer to the flame of Athens as it was the Olympic flame, without making any discrimination regarding its values, symbolisms and connotations. Until recently, these symbolisms were exclusively connected with the Olympic Flame which was granted to the humanity from Olympia. Undoubtedly, it is the Olympic Flame, together with the other Olympic symbols that create the necessary mental and spiritual atmosphere which inspires and motivates every individual, no matter how close to the world of sports he or she stands.

On the key issue of the depreciation of the sacred symbol of the Olympic Movement comes as an answer the proposal of the Institute of Olympism ‘Terra Olympia’, which suggests, after a thorough study of the historical sources, the returning to the ancient custom of the unquenchable - undying flame: In the historically defined area, the Prytaneion of Olympia, the official Olympic Flame should burn perpetually, full of symbolisms and authenticity in a specially constructed hearth, under the auspices of the Hellenic State, the European Council and Parliament, the UN, the UNESCO and the IOC. Along with the beautiful ceremony which has been established since 1936, we should initiate and combine another well designed artistic but less formal ceremony, in order to pass the Olympic Flame for the implementation of all other Olympic events being organised or supervised by the Olympic Movement.

About Konstantinos Antonopoulos

Konstantinos Antonopoulos is Archaeologist of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Elis/Greece and Vice President of the Institute of Olympism Terra Olympia

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