Female athlete to launch Olympic torch relay for 1st time

Japan 2020

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – AUGUST 09: Gold medalist Anna Korakaki of Greece smiles on the podium during the medal ceremony for the Women’s 25m pistol event on Day 4 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Shooting Centre on August 9, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — For the first time, a woman has been chosen to launch the torch relay for the 2020 Tokyo Games at the birthplace of the ancient Olympics in Greece.

Greece’s Olympic committee said Thursday it has picked Rio de Janeiro shooting gold medalist Anna Korakaki as the first torchbearer following the flame-lighting ceremony in Ancient Olympia on March 12.

The carefully-choreographed ceremony is led by an actress posing as an ancient Greek priestess who lights the flame using a a bowl-shaped mirror to focus the heat of the sun’s rays on her torch. She will then pass it on to Korakaki.

The torch relay will course through Greece for a week before the flame is handed over to Tokyo organizing officials at a ceremony in Athens. The last torchbearer will also be a woman — Greece’s Katerina Stefanidi who won the pole vault gold medal at Rio.

Greece’s national Olympic committee president Spyros Capralos said Korakaki’s selection was a “historic” moment.

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