23 April 2016:
The flame will spend seven days in Greece before a handover ceremony sees it depart from Athens to Geneva on the 28 April for a quick stop at the United Nations office.
A visit to the Olympic Museum in Lausanne will follow, before the flame embarks on its journey to Brazil on 2 May.
The Torch Relay will then visit 329 towns and cities in Brazil, covering 20,000km by road and 10,000 miles by air around the host country – the first South American nation to stage the Olympic Games.
Maria Esther Bueno, whose name adorns the new Olympic Tennis Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, is an Ambassador of the Torch Relay, helping sponsors Bradesco to launch the concept in October and promoting it widely throughout Brazil.
In February she was part of the celebrations to launch the full Olympic Torch Relay route, announce the first torchbearers and unveil the uniforms.
“It really was very hot, and we were out in it all morning outside the Olympic Organising Committee headquarters but it was fun,” said Maria Esther.
“I was one of three Bradesco ambassadors invited to be present and we walked behind Érika Miranda, who modelled the uniform and demonstrated the torch.
“There was a huge crowd there and around 200 media people so we were all doing interviews and signing autographs, posing for pictures all the time!”
The Rio 2016 Olympic Torch Relay, which begins on 3 May in the capital city Brasília, will showcase the diverse beauty of Brazil by visiting 329 towns and cities across all five regions of Brazil and reaching 90 per cent of the population before arriving at the Maracanã Stadium for the Opening Ceremony on 5 August.
Twelve-thousand torchbearers will be involved in the Torch Relay, taking the spirit of the Olympic Games to each and every corner of the fifth largest country in the world and demonstrating the huge reach of the Olympic flame in its pursuit to convey a message of hope and inspiration wherever it travels.
“In just a few weeks, the Brazilian people will enthusiastically welcome the world and they will amaze us with their joy of life and great passion for sport. This will be Brazil’s moment. This will be Brazil’s Games,” said IOC President Thomas Bach.
“May today’s lighting of the Olympic Flame be another reminder to everyone to uphold the spirit of the Olympic games and to build a better world through sport.”
Torch Relay – milestones
- 21 April – Lighting Ceremony in Olympia
- 21 April to 27 April – Relay in Greece
- 27 April – Handover Ceremony, flame passed over to Rio 2016 in Athens
- 29 April – Flame visits the UN in Geneva and goes to The Olympic Museum
- 2 May – Flame leaves Lausanne for Brasilia
- 3 May to 5 August 2016 – Relay in Brazil
- 5 August 2016 – Opening Ceremony, flame will arrive to light the Olympic Cauldron
“We watched the ceremony live on television here in Brazil and it was very moving, with [volleyball Olympian] Giovane Gávio, the first Brazilian in the 2016 Torch Relay receiving the torch in tears!
“We Brazilians are very emotional!”
While political turmoil still embroils preparations for the Olympic Games, Bueno stays well clear of it all and simply says: “Brazil will do a great job with the Olympics in spite of everything that is going on. We always do!”
As an Ambassador for Bradesco, one of the main sponsors or the Torch Relay, Bueno appears in a video that will be aired in 84 cities across Brazil to promote the arrival of the flame each night to ‘sleep’ ahead the next leg of its tour across the country.
“Bradesco are creating a 20-minute stage show to welcome the last torch bearer of each day as part of the Relay celebrations, and for sure it will be quite a party for the public in every city,” explains Maria Esther.
“I am so thrilled to be playing a part in all of this!”
For more on Olympic Tennis, click HERE.
For more on Rio 2016, click HERE.