On 21 August 1964, King Constantine II of Greece arrived in Olympia with Princess Irene as Chairmen of the Greek Olympic Committee. First, they laid a laurel wreath at the tomb where the heart of the founder of the Olympic Movement, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, rests. Then, at the ruins of the ancient Temple of Zeus, the priestesses lit the Sacred Olympic Flame in the cauldron to the heat of the sun’s rays.
This Olympic torch in the cauldron, guarded by young priestesses, was taken to the site of the ancient Olympics where the King, the Princess, IOC President Brundage, Organising Committee President Yasukawa, Olympic Torch Relay Committee Chairman Takashima and other officials were waiting. In this impressive ceremony, the chief priestess, Mrs Aleca Katseli, lit the torch on the ship and handed it over to King Constantine, who in turn passed the torch to the first relay runner, Georgios Marcellos, the Greek 110-metre hurdles champion.
On the following evening, the torch reached the Pan-Athenian Stadium in Athens – the first venue of the Modern Olympics.
From Olympia to Okinawa, the fire stopped at 12 stations: Athens, Istanbul, Beirut, Tehran, Lahore, New Delphi, Yangon, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Honk Kong, Taipei. The torch relay lasted 51 days. One hundred thousand runners carried it across Japan. The flame arrived in Japan on 7 September. After three days, the opening ceremony took place at the National Stadium in Tokyo.
Let’s remember the ceremony in Olympia and Athens!
Photos in this collection provided by the Hellenic Olympic Committee