Olympic flame being lit in Greece for Winter Games

The IOC had considered sending the torch through North Korea after it participated in its transport for the 2008 Beijing Games

South Korean prime minister Lee Nak-yeon was in the Greek capital here on Monday as part of a visit that would see the Olympic flame being ignited in Olympia ahead of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics.

Lee Nak-yeon laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in central Syntagma Square on the morning, before meeting his counterpart Alexis Tsipras, as seen in photographs released by epa, reports Efe.

The flame is to be lit on Tuesday in a symbolic act ahead of the Games set to take place in February 2018 in the northern South Korean county of PyeongChang, at a time of escalated tension with North Korea.

Various high profile officials will attend the torch-lighting event, including Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos and President of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach.

Greek actress Katerina Lehou was set to reprise her role as high priestess during the ceremony as she had done for Rio 2016 and would pass the flame onto the first torchbearer; Greek cross-country ski champion Apostolos Angelis.

South Korean former soccer player Park Ji-sung, who played for Manchester United, will become the second torchbearer as the flame is sent on a week-long tour of the European nation before being flown to South Korea on November 1 exactly 100 days before the Games start.

The torch will pass through the hands of some 7,500 torchbearers during the traditional relay, which will cover a distance of 2,018 kms (1,253 miles).

The IOC had considered sending the torch through North Korea after it participated in its transport for the 2008 Beijing Games, but the proposal was ruled out over diplomatic tension between the two Koreas.

Faced with military development and ballistic missile tests being carried out by its northern neighbour, South Korea is preparing to boost security measures for the Games with big players in winter sports like France and Austria having threatened not to attend if the security of their athletes cannot be guaranteed.

South Korea will host its second Olympic Games from February 9-25, after the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics.

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