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The southern French city of Marseille is abuzz with excitement as the Olympic torch arrives from Greece ahead of a welcoming ceremony scheduled for sunset on Wednesday at the Old Port. The torch was lit in Greece and arrived in France aboard the majestic three-mast ship Belem, which first set sail in 1896. Paris Games organizers have promised fantastic celebrations in Marseille, with more than a thousand boats accompanying Belem’s parade around the Bay of Marseille. The welcoming ceremony will feature a demonstration by the acrobatic team of the French air force, the Patrouille de France.

Safety is a top priority for authorities in Marseille, with 8,000 police officers deployed around the harbor and additional measures such as firefighters, bomb disposal squads, maritime police, and anti-drone teams in place. The torch relay will kick off in Marseille before traveling to Paris, passing through iconic locations such as Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy’s D-Day landing beaches, and the Versailles Palace. Residents and tourists in Marseille are eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Olympic flame, with many families enjoying the festivities along the Mediterranean boardwalk.

French Sports Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera emphasized the symbolic and emotional significance of the torch relay, highlighting how it can unite people in celebration and pride. Olympic swimmer Florent Manaudou has been chosen as the first torchbearer in France, with Marseille Mayor Benoît Payan expressing pride in hosting the beginning of the relay. The city’s strong connection to Greek culture, as it was founded by Greek colonists thousands of years ago, adds to the excitement surrounding the event. A heavy security presence, including elite units like the National Gendarmerie Intervention Group, has been deployed to ensure the safety of participants and spectators.

As preparations continue for the Paris Games opening ceremony on July 26, details about the lighting of the Olympic cauldron remain top secret. Possible locations include iconic landmarks like the Eiffel Tower or the Tuileries Gardens near the Louvre Museum. The city of Marseille is gearing up for a memorable start to the torch relay, with thousands of spectators expected to witness the historic event. The sense of celebration, sportsmanship, and Olympism runs deep in the city’s residents, reflecting their enthusiasm for the Games. With a focus on safety and a commitment to creating a sense of national pride, the torch relay promises to be a moment of joy and unity for the French people.

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