Athletes join global relay to start Olympics countdown

BAHRAIN’S athletes, dressed in red and white, proudly took part in a global 24-hour relay to celebrate sport and mark the start of the 500-day countdown to the 2024 Paris Summer Olympic Games.

On Tuesday, more than 116 countries and overseas territories, including 128 embassies, consulates, permanent representations of France and Overseas Departments and Regions – Overseas Collectivities (DROM-COM) bearing the ‘Terre de Jeux 2024’ label joined the ‘Relay around the world: 24 hours of sport across all five continents’, paying tribute to each country’s athletes.

The event began in New Zealand before crossing Oceania, Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas, and finishing in the Pacific in French Polynesia ... and the French Embassy in Bahrain, the Bahrain Olympic Committee (BOC) and the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities were thrilled to join in the festivities.

The Paris Olympics is set to be held between July 26 and August 11 next year.

“The Olympic Games represent one of the most prominent events that reflect the power of sport for all peoples,” said French ambassador Jerome Cauchard, who was present at the Bahrain Fort along with BOC’s secretary general Faris Mustafa Al Kooheji and staff members from both entities to celebrate the launch of the countdown.

Several students were present at the Fort alongside Bahraini stars such as para-athlete Shaikha Al Shaiba, and triathlete and three-time Ironman finisher Dana Zubari, influencers and members of the media.

Mr Cauchard said France was proud to host the 2024 Paris Olympics “to emphasise its role in advancing the sports movement and rapprochement between peoples”.

Participants enjoyed a 1.2km walk around the fort along with exhibitions in taekwondo, fencing and table tennis. Visitors also took pictures with the Olympic rings and the mascot of the Paris Olympics 2024 at the venue.

In parallel to the sporting events around the world, athletes like Ms Al Shaiba, 40, took part in a virtual relay on Twitter featuring other runners. One athlete from each country runs for a distance and passes the baton to another athlete in another country with the process continuing for a total of 24 hours. A video being circulated online shows an athlete in Azerbaijan passing a baton to Paralympian Ms Al Shaiba, who then passes it to a competitor in Bulgaria, and so forth.

Meanwhile, Mr Al Kooheji shared BOC’s eagerness for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

“The Olympic Games in Rio 2016 were affected by the Zika virus and the Tokyo event was hit by Covid-19. We hope the Paris showcase will witness remarkable success and distinction,” he said.

“France is one of the most attractive destinations for tourists, and when members of the Olympic movement meet, it will certainly be one of the Olympic Games that will remain in their minds, and I am sure 206 Olympic committees will feel happy about the French hospitality.”

Mr Al Kooheji added that under the directives of BOC president and General Sports Authority chairman Shaikh Khalid bin Hamad Al Khalifa, preparations for the 2024 Paris Olympics have begun and Bahrain will participate in athletics, judo, boxing and several other events.




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