Olympic Flame arrives at UN office in Geneva

Geneva, April 29 (IANS) The Olympic Flame on Friday reached the United Nations Office in Geneva, as it starts making its way to the Olympic Games Rio 2016 in Brazil this August.

The flame, which had been officially lit at Ancient Olympia, Greece on April 21, arrived at the Palais des Nations in a lantern carried by a Brazilian child, shining brightly at a ceremony to commemorate the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, reports Xinhua.

The United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, and International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach attended the ceremony.

“Here, at our Palais des Nations in Geneva, this flame represents the warm partnership between the United Nations and the International Olympic Movement. This is the flame of passion that burns in the hearts of athletes and fans,” Ban said at the ceremony.

“It is the eternal flame representing timeless values that can never be extinguished. And most of all, this flame is a beacon of solidarity with all peoples of the world,” he noted.

Bach said the UN and the IOC shared the same principle of tolerance, solidarity and peace and one expression of this solidarity is the creation of the Refugee Olympic Team.

IOC has zeroed in on a total of 43 possible candidates, affected by the worldwide refugee crisis. Out of the 43, the total number of athletes who will achieve the qualification criteria will make it to Rio. The selection criteria will also include personal circumstances and United Nations-verified refugee status.

Bach welcomed the refugee team to compete with other 206 Olympic teams in August, highlighting it will “send the message of hope to all refugees in the world”.

During the ceremony, Bach presented the Olympic Cup to the United Nations for its distinguished service to sport or contributed successfully to the promotion of the Olympic ideals. Ban Ki-moon accepted the award on behalf of the organization.

Geneva is the first stopover in Switzerland for the Flame before it moves to the Olympic Museum in Lausanne and then heads to Brazil.

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