Georgia welcomes Olympic flame

Georgia's famous athlete, World Champion of the year 1974 in gymnastics Rusudan Sikharulidze was the first torch bearer after the Olympic flame was delivered to Georgia., 26 May 2015 - 20:28, Tbilisi,Georgia

The Olympic flame for the 2015 European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF) has landed in Georgia’s seaside city Batumi ahead of the Tbilisi 2015 torch relay after being flown from Athens, Greece.

Dozens of torch bearers and Georgian athletes were the first to welcome the Olympic flame to Georgia at a special ceremony held in Batumi International Airport. Once the plane touched down and the torch was transported from the plane, Georgia's torch bearer and famous athlete, World champion of the year 1974,  Rusudan Sikharulidze was given the Olympic flame.

Celebrations will continue tonight at Batumi’s Piazza square.

The Olympic flame will shine in Tbilisi in July. I wish big success to Georgia to [host] the European Youth Olympic Games. The Greek Olympic Committee shares Georgia’s vision about the Olympic Games and sport in general. Every success of the Georgians will be very pleasant for us. Wishing a good journey of the Olympic flame to Georgia,” said President of the Greek Olympic Committee Spyros Kapralos.

Meanwhile, the Olympic torch was lit in Athens – the oldest city of Greece and the home of the Olympic Games – earlier today to mark the beginning of the EYOF 2015, as well symbolically recognizing Georgia’s Independence Day.

The flame was lit at a special ceremony at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens and handed to Georgian sportsman Lasha Shavdatuashvili, who was the official first torch bearer of the EYOF 2015. Shavdatuashvili won a gold medal at the 2012 London Olympic Games for Judo.

Shavdatuashvili then handed the Olympic torch to Georgian tennis player Mariam Bolkvadze.

On May 28 the Olympic flame will leave Batumi and be transported across the 67 municipalities of Georgia before the EYOF begins in Tbilisi in July.

On July 14 the flame will come to Georgia’s capital Tbilisi – the host city of the EYOF. The international competition will be held from July 25 to August 1, 2015.

This year is the 13th biennial competition. The flame will be ablaze until the end of the competition.

This year the Olympic torch is decorated with the Georgian elements - vine leaves and grape seeds.

The EYOF 2015, commonly known as Tbilisi 2015, will see more than 4,000 youth athletes from 49 European countries descend on Georgia’s capital to participate in nine sports: judo, tennis, artistic gymnastics, track cycling, track and field athletics, swimming, volleyball, handball and basketball.