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President Fraccari carries Olympic Torch in Greece

President Fraccari carries Olympic Torch in Greece
12/03/2020
The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) leader took part in the early stages of the Torch Relay.

OLYMPIA, Greece -- With baseball and softball expected to be one of the biggest spectacles of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari today (Thursday, 12 March) was one of the torchbearers for the XXXII Summer Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

"To be in Olympia for the Lighting Ceremony of the Olympic Flame and be a torchbearer is a tremendous honour for the sport of baseball/softball, the WBSC and myself personally," said President Fraccari, who carried the Olympic Flame in the early stages of the Torch Relay in Kyparissia. "Today the Olympic Flame begins its journey to Tokyo 2020, where baseball and softball have a special place in the culture and will help transmit Olympic values around the world. It was really an incredible and emotional experience to be part of."

Baseball and softball are returning to the Olympic Games for the first time since the Beijing 2008 Olympics. The schedule for softball, which has the honour of being the first event of the Games, was unveiled earlier on Thursday.

The world baseball softball leader is one of approximately 10,000 torchbearers to take part in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay. The Flame was planned to go on a one-week Olympic Torch Relay across Greece however it was stopped on Friday (13 March) due to the large crowds joining the route, despite warnings not to, to avoid the potential spread of the coronavirus. The Olympic Torch hand over from the National Olympic Committee of Greece to the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee on 19 March will still take place in a ceremony at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens. The Torch which will visit 47 prefectures, incorporating 859 local municipalities, for a period of 121 days, before arriving in Tokyo for the Opening Ceremony.

The Olympic flame was lit near the Temple of Hera at the sacred site of Ancient Olympia, Greece, where the Olympic Games of Antiquity took place, and will continue its journey as a symbol of peace and hope in Japan where, in 134 days, Tokyo 2020 will begin.

The President of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach addressed the lighting ceremony saying: “This ceremony demonstrates once more our commitment to the success of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. Nineteen weeks before the Opening Ceremony, we are strengthened in this commitment by the many authorities and sports organisations around the world which are taking so many significant measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus”.

Women dressed in ancient attire representing priestesses used a parabolic mirror to collect the rays of the sun to kindle the flame, which was then handed over to the first torchbearer, Olympic gold medallist Anna Korakaki from Greece. Noguchi Mizuki, the winner of the women’s marathon race at the Olympic Games Athens 2004, represented the host country as the second torchbearer.