2020 Olympic Torch Relay Will Start With A Female Athlete For First Time

by Julie Scagell
Panayiotis Tzamaros/Getty

This is the first time in 124 years the torch relay will start with a female athlete

When we think about the Olympics, we think about world-class athletes, hard work, dedication, and watching people’s dreams coming true right before our eyes. One interesting fact you maybe didn’t know — the Olympic torch relay that kicks off the Olympic Games has never been initiated by a female athlete — until this year.

Greece’s Hellenic Olympic Committee made the announcement this week that Rio de Janeiro gold medalist Anna Korakaki will begin the torch relay for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

The relay, as always, will begin with a flame lighting ceremony in Olympia, Greece, the ancient site where the original Games were hosted. Spyros Capralos, president of the Greek Olympic Committee and IOC member, called it a “historic moment,” and it most definitely will be.

Korakaki has been part of the Greek national Olympic team since 2010 and is a shooting world champion. She received gold in the 25m pistol and bronze in the 10m air pistol at the Rio Olympics in 2016.

“It’s a huge honor for me. It is very moving and I believe the feelings will become even more intense after that moment in Ancient Olympia. I am looking forward to experiencing [the moment] and I’m sure it will remain engraved in my mind and heart for my entire life,” said Korakaki in a statement.

Korakaki will pass the torch to Japanese long-distance runner Mizuki Noguchi, who won the gold for the women’s marathon at the Athens Olympics in 2004. Greek gold-medallist pole vaulter Katerina Stefanidis will be the final torchbearer in Greece before passing the torch on to the Toyko team.

The HOC President, International Olympic Committee Member Spyros Capralos, said of the selection of the two Olympic champions: “It is a historic moment, as for the first time in history a female athlete will be the first torchbearer. I believe that Anna Korakaki has honoured the Greek flag and our country, and she deserves it, not only for the two medals at the Rio Olympics, but also for her successes after 2016. I am also happy for Ekaterina Stefanidi, another amazing Greek athlete who shines in the sports world. We are proud of our continued success. Congratulations to both of our athletes.”

The relay will travel around Greece for eight days, before the handover ceremony at Athens’ Panathenaic Stadium where it will move to the host country of Japan. From there, the flame will visit all 47 prefectures before it arrives at Tokyo’s National Stadium to light the Olympic cauldron during the opening ceremony on July 24.

It’s about time.