Paris 2024 Olympic Games: Marseille ready to roll out the red carpet for the arrival of the Olympic flame this Wednesday, May 8

Paris 2024 Olympic Games: Marseille ready to roll out the red carpet for the arrival of the Olympic flame this Wednesday, May 8

Le Belem attendu pour une grande journée de festivités dans le Vieux-Port de Marseille. MAXPPP – VASSILIS PSOMAS

After twelve days at sea from Greece and a day of parade and celebration, the “Belem” will dock this Wednesday, around 7 p.m., in the Old Port. Florent Manaudou will then be able to light the sacred fire…

It’s the big day! The first before the one which will set Paris and the Seine ablaze on July 26. Marseille is not going to let its turn pass and celebrate this return of history with dignity. After twelve days of navigation, the three-masted Belem, built in the year of the first modern Games (1896), will in another fully assumed symbol bring this Olympic flame to the Old Port of the ;ancient Massalia, founded 2 600 years ago by Greek sailors.

When, after having paraded a whole day offshore, the sailboat will double the crowds of Marseille supporters at the entrance to the Old Port, under a fireworks display, then it will be ;will impose the feeling that he is really reaching the goal. That he lands in the right place, in a city more likely to travel by balloon, but disproportionately designed for this type of pagan ceremonies. "Marseille was an obvious choice", confirms Tony Estanguet, head of the organizing committee.

150 000 people

In the presence of Emmanuel Macron and in front of 150,000 people in a trance, Marseille, which will host the sailing and football events during these Games, will fully enjoy the privilege of seeing the flame ignite the first of the many cauldrons which will mark the stage towns of the relay. And as we are no longer down to one symbol, it is the muscular arm of swimmer Florent Manaudou, Olympic champion in 2012 and Marseille at heart, which will thus set the world of sport ablaze… twenty-two days after her big sister, Laure, carried the first torch to Olympia.

Paris 2024 Olympic Games: Marseille ready to roll out the red carpet for the arrival of the Olympic flame this Wednesday, May 8

Swimmer Florent Manaudou, very attached to Marseille, will be the first torchbearer. MAXPPP – HASLIN

The party can then be in full swing on the Canebière, in memory of the great ceremonies offered to the gods of Olympia. Except that the ancient sacrifices were replaced by another form of self-giving. That of artists like the Marseille rappers Soprano and Alonzo, happy to ignite a crowd in osmosis with their children.

"We're going to do something grandiose"

"We are going to do something beautiful, grandiose, sober and popular at the same time", promised the mayor from Marseille, Benoît Payan, in a fit of pride tinged with recovery.

It is true that for a week, dozens of workers have been busy installing the various structures, stages, lighting, sound system, but also this pontoon in the shape of an athletics track that Florent Manaudou will tread on with the legendary torch.

Paris 2024 Olympic Games: Marseille ready to roll out the red carpet for the arrival of the Olympic flame this Wednesday, May 8

A red carpet rolled out in the Old Port for the ceremony on Wednesday evening (7 p.m.). MAXPPP – PENNANT Franck

In an Old Port stripped like never before, the people of Marseille will undoubtedly also discover the somewhat magical excesses of the Olympic Games, capable of achieving the unachievable. Even though a strike by some of the garbage collectors, a few streets away, caused a pile of around a hundred tons of trash.

Papin, Parker, Drogba

Marseille, land of contrasts and center of the world for the space of one evening, will therefore also live for two days at the time of a reinforced police presence and omnipresent, against a backdrop of terrorist risk and the threat of excesses in the name of demands of all kinds.

Like everything that captivates, the Olympic torch will be a target during these two months of slow ascent towards Paris, which will begin on Thursday. A first relay which will visit emblematic places, from the Notre-Dame de la Garde basilica, which dominates the Mediterranean, to the Stade Vélodrome.

From May 13, the flame among us

To rally this cathedral having housed the greatest coronations and the most legendary Olympian masses, what could be better than a battalion of glorious elders of the OM ? From Jean -Pierre Papin, Ballon d’Or in 1991, to Basile Boli, legendary scorer of the 1993 European title, via Valentin Rongier, current captain of OM, or Didier Drogba.

From Louisa Necib, former number 10 of the France team, to ex-basketball player Tony Parker, the rest of the cast will be up to the task. Including with former swimmers Fabien Gilot and Fred Bousquet, the Catalan, two former medalists. The Olympics remains a big family and a story that can be enjoyed cozy by the fire. With the promise of seeing it pass in a few days, from May 13, on our doorstep. A bit like a yellow jersey from childhood.

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