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Marseille Welcomes Olympic Flame as Torchbearers Begin 11-Week Journey Across France

Marseille Welcomes the Olympic Flame with Spectacular Torch Arrival Ceremony

The streets of Marseille, a vibrant southern port city in France, were filled with excitement as torchbearers prepared to carry the Olympic flame. The torch had arrived the previous day on a majestic three-mast ship, setting the stage for a grand welcoming ceremony. This marks the beginning of an 11-week journey across the country, with around 10,000 torchbearers passing through over 450 towns before reaching its destination at the opening ceremony of the Games in Paris on July 26.

The first torch relay was launched by Basile Boli, a former soccer player who had played for the Marseille team in the 1990s. Boli commenced the relay from Notre Dame de la Garde basilica, a picturesque location that overlooks Marseille and the Mediterranean. Later in the day, basketball player Tony Parker would also join the relay, adding to the anticipation and enthusiasm surrounding the event.

This year’s torchbearers were selected from a diverse range of backgrounds, including a fencing champion, a skateboarder, a Michelin-starred chef, and even a comedian. Their participation added an extra layer of excitement and showcased the unity and inclusivity that the Olympics represent.

Throughout the day, participants ran through the most emblematic places in Marseille, culminating in a climactic finish at the renowned Stade Velodrome, home to the city’s passionate soccer fans. This iconic stadium has witnessed countless moments of sporting glory and was now set to add another chapter to its storied history as it welcomed the Olympic torch.

The flame’s arrival in Marseille was met with great fanfare and drew an impressive crowd of over 230,000 people. Marseille Mayor Benoît Payan expressed his delight at the overwhelming support from the community. One resident, Amel Sekko, described the event as “incredible” and “magical,” capturing the sense of awe that permeated the atmosphere.

The torch arrival ceremony also featured notable figures such as French rap artist Jul and Paralympic athlete Nantenin Keïta, who proudly held the Olympic torch. The Patrouille de France, an aerobatics demonstration team, added to the spectacle by leaving a tricolor trail of smoke in the sky as the three-masted sailing ship, Belem, made its entrance into the Old Port.

For the residents of Marseille, this event held great significance. Mouna Boulhas expressed her belief that experiencing such moments was a must in one’s lifetime. She emphasized the rarity of events like these in Marseille and highlighted the city’s warm climate, which perfectly complemented the Olympic flame.

As the torch continues its journey across France, it brings with it a sense of unity and anticipation for the upcoming Games. Marseille, known for its rich sporting history, will play host to the sailing competition and several soccer matches during the Olympics. The city’s residents are eagerly awaiting these events, eager to witness more moments of sporting glory and create lasting memories.

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