Olympic flame lit for 2018 PyeongChang Games

Torch lit with backup flame due to rainy weather

(Milos Bicanski/Getty Images)

The Olympic flame for the 2018 PyeongChang Games was lit Tuesday in Olympia, Greece, the birthplace of the ancient Olympics.

The lighting ceremony in front of the 2,600-year-old Temple of Hera was marred by a rainy and cloudy conditions that prevented the flame from being lit the traditional way using the rays of the sun and a parabolic mirror. Instead, a backup flame lit by that method during Monday's dress rehearsal was used, according to a report from The Associated Press.

The elaborate lighting ceremony, including an actress playing an ancient pagan priestess, starts the flame on a journey that will take it around Greece for eight days before heading to South Korea.

The first torchbearer was Greek skier Apostolos Angelis, who has already qualified for the PyeongChang Games. He carried the torch a short distance and then handed it over to retired South Korean soccer star Park Ji-sung.

The flame will be handed over to the PyeongChang 2018 Organizing Committee during an Oct. 31 ceremony in Athens and then flown to the Korean city of Incheon, arriving on Nov. 1 to mark the 100-day mark before the start of the 2018 Winter Games.

From that point the Olympic Torch Relay will take the flame throughout South Korea, going through nine provinces and eight major cities, before arriving at the PyeongChang Olympic Stadium for the Feb. 9 Opening Ceremony.

The Olympic flame is a tradition dating back to the ancient Olympics, when a fire was kept burning throughout the Games. It was reintroduced during the modern Games at the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam and was first featured at the Winter Games at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, eight year later.