Marking 100 days until the start of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, the Olympic flame arrived in Seoul on Wednesday. A torch relay has now begun which will wrap up on February ninth, the opening day of the winter games.
The flame for the PyeongChang Games was first lit at the Temple of Hera in Olympia, Greece on October 24th.
After an eight-day relay through Greece, it made its way into South Korean hands having traveled over 8,500 kilometers.
The flame arrived at Incheon International Airport at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday. Some 750 people were on hand to welcome its arrival, including PyeongChang Organizing Committee chairman Lee Hee-beom and sports stars such as figure skating champion and PyeongChang games PR ambassador Kim Yu-na.
South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon stressed in his speech the significance of hosting the Winter Games 30 years after the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
He noted the success of the ’88 games as well as the 2002 South Korea-Japan World Cup, and expressed hopes for a repeat in Pyeongchang as well.
The torch relay kicked off Wednesday with the first torch bearer being You Young, who made headlines for becoming the youngest national ladies' singles figure skating champion in Korea at age eleven last year.
A total of 75-hundred torch bearers will carry the flame some two-thousand-18 kilometers across South Korea before it is delivered to the PyeongChang Olympic stadium for the opening ceremony on February 9th.
The 23rd Winter Olympics in PyeongChang will be held from February 9th to the 25th under the slogan "Passion.Connected." Some 65-hundred athletes from 95 countries will compete in 102 events.
The opening and closing ceremonies and most snow sport events will take place in PyeongChang, while all ice sports will be held in Gangneung and downhill alpine skiing will be in Jeongseon.
Basic facilities and stadiums have been completed for the most part with Olympic test events already held successfully.
Amid the simmering North Korea crisis, there is a determination among organizers to ensure the PyeongChang games are an Olympic of peace.
For South Korea, following a period of political turmoil and conflict, the event is considered to play a key role in promoting national unity. The Olympics is also expected to generate over 32 trillion won in economic effects over the next ten years.