Youth Olympic flame burns brightly for Nanjing 2014
© LOC

The flame for the second Summer Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China, was lit today in the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens, Greece. This marks the start of the Virtual Torch Relay, which gives fans around the world the chance to get involved in the Youth Olympic Games via an interactive app before the flame arrives in China in August for the physical torch relay ahead of the Games.

Following Olympic tradition, the Youth Olympic flame was lit by the sun’s rays reflected in a parabolic mirror, with a priestess from the Temple of Hera passing on the torch to the first relay runner in Athens’ ancient stadium – the home of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896. Four young athletes from Greece and China then performed a mini torch relay within the Stadium before igniting the Virtual Torch Relay which can be downloaded at the tournament's official site.

Attending the ceremony, along with IOC Honorary President Jacques Rogge, were Chinese Olympic Committee Chairman Liu Peng, Mayor of Nanjing and NYOGOC Vice-President Miao Ruilin, Chairman of the Nanjing 2014 IOC Coordination Commission Alexander Popov and President of the Hellenic Olympic Committee Spyros Capralos.

“Today’s Lighting Ceremony marks the symbolic start of these Games. We hope it will inspire people to get active and to embrace the Olympic values," IOC Honorary President Rogge said at the ceremony. “Let the Youth Olympic Flame now carry the passion and dreams of the young people to every corner of the globe before settling in Nanjing in August.”

The flame will now start its virtual journey, stopping at 258 online locations including the 204 nations and regions that will participate in Nanjing 2014. The app has many features to engage and inspire fans to get active and learn more about the Olympic values, as well as lots of fun games and activities. This new way of passing on the Youth Olympic flame aims to spread the Olympic values of excellence, friendship and respect to young people around the world regardless of language, time zone or geographical location.

After this 98-day digital journey, the Youth Olympic flame will arrive in Nanjing for a short physical torch relay before marking the start of the Games on 16 August.