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Korean PM optimistic about successful Olympic flame lighting despite rain forecast

ATHENS -- South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon said Monday he expects successful lighting of the Olympic flame for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games despite rain forecast.

The Olympic flame lighting ceremony for PyeongChang Games will take place at the Temple of Hera in Olympia, Greece, on Tuesday. Following the tradition, the Olympic flame will be lit by the sun's rays using a parabolic mirror at noon, but the local weather forecast showed there's an 80 percent chance of rain on the ceremony day. 

Lee, who arrived in Greece on Sunday, however, said he believes the Olympic flame will be created in a traditional method as scheduled. He will attend the lighting ceremony as a representative of the South Korean government and will also meet with International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach.

In this file photo taken Oct. 18, 2017, South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon speaks during a government meeting for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games in Seoul. (Yonhap)
In this file photo taken Oct. 18, 2017, South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon speaks during a government meeting for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games in Seoul. (Yonhap)

"Although there's an 80 percent chance of rain on the day of the lighting ceremony, I still want to believe in the other 20 percent," Lee told South Korean reporters.

As a precaution, the organizers of the lighting ceremony said they have secured a "backup" flame, which is also ignited by the traditional method. In case the sun is not out and there's heavy rain, the lighting ceremony will be staged indoors at Olympic Academy using the flame from a security lamp. 

The last time Greek organizers used the security lamp for the Olympic flame was in the ceremony for the 2000 Sydney Games. 

After the Olympic flame is born, Greek actress Katerina Lehou, who will serve as High Priestess in the lighting ceremony, will light the torch of her compatriot and cross-country skier Apostolos Angelis to start the torch relay. He will then pass the flame to South Korean football icon Park Ji-sung, who will be at the Pierre de Coubertin Grove. 

The flame will then take a weeklong tour of Greece before it is handed to the organizers of the PyeongChang Olympics at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens on Oct. 31. The flame will arrive in the South Korean port city of Incheon the next day, which marks 100 days to go until the opening of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, and start the torch relay that will visit nine provinces and eight major cities in the country.

A total of 7,500 torchbearers will travel 2,018 kilometers in South Korea before the Olympic flame arrives at the PyeongChang Olympic Stadium for the opening ceremony on Feb. 9, 2018. (Yonhap)
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