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Olympic Torch Handoff Ceremony in Athens

I am arriving in Athens 03.19.2020 by air from Naxos at 0930. My hotel is near Syntagma Square.

I just learned of the Olympic Torch Handoff Ceremony scheduled on that date for 1100 at the Panathenaiic Stadium. I'd like to see at least some of the ceremony, even if only from a distance at the top of the stadium looking down.

I wish I had thought of the scheduled Olympic Torch lighting events earlier, since my plans make it that I will be nowhere near Olympia on 3/12, not on mainland Greece as it travels with runners in the next week, and nowhere near the Acropolis when the torch arrives in Athens on 3.18. Though, maybe I'll miss the crowds too and I'm not opposed to it.

Once I reach my Athens hotel on the morning of 3.19 (likely by taxi) I'll be within a 15 minute walk to the stadium. I've read advice suggesting one arrive early at the Panhaellaenic Stadium Handoff Ceremony (I understand it is a free event) - and by 0930 that morning - which I cannot do since I'll just be landing at Athens airport at that time. Nonetheless, I'll plan to head off in that direction to hopefully see some of the ceremony.

Is anyone familiar with this event?
Will I need a ticket and be required to take a seat in the stadium to see any of the event or can I just plan to overlook the stadium from the top?
Will security and crowds be a mess around the city on that date?
Will the event start promptly at 1100 or will it be a reliably late Greek start?
How long does the event typically go on for? An hour? Longer than an hour?

Thanks in advance for any information you are willing to share!

Posted by
36 posts

Thanks, for the link, but not quite. I already Googled and couldn’t find the specifics I’m interested in so I posted here in hopes someone has attended the ceremony.

Posted by
1168 posts

Crystal

I’m guessing this is a link you’ve already seen as you mention being advised to get there by 9.30.

https://whyathens.com/events/olympic-flame-panathenaic-stadium-athens/

I can’t help with your specific questions but it may be worth knowing that the Stadium is surrounded by a park from which you can look down into it. This may be less crowded than the stadium itself..

The park entrance is on Archimidous. Head left across the front of the stadium, up a small road and turn right up steps. Continue on a footpath along the outside of the stadium and you’ll reach Archimidous. Turn right and immediately right into the park.

The walk is around ten minutes so this may not help if the problem is getting there on time. On the other hand the park has great views across to the Acropolis so is nice to visit anyway.

Alan

Posted by
1168 posts

By the way, thanks for the info. I’m in Athens myself that day and had no idea this was happening.

Posted by
36 posts

Yes, Alan, and thanks! That is the website where I already found some good information. The details you provided are also helpful. It's great to know it is a park setting at the top of the stadium! Sounds like a perfect perch to sit and watch a bit or to take photos of The Acropolis from another perspective. I'm going to Google map it and take a bit of a walk in the area now that you've made me curious!

Posted by
1168 posts

Crystal

If you’re in that area and like modern art don’t miss the recently opened Goulamdri Museum

https://goulandris.gr/en/about/begoulandris-athens

Also, there are some nice restaurants in Plateia Varnava, a couple of blocks behind the stadium. I Mikri Vouli is a favourite of ours.

This reminds me that bus 209 runs from Syntagma up to the back of the park. It’s every 30 minutes in the morning and takes just over 10 minutes to Varnava. Having said that I guess traffic might be snarled if the Olympic torch ceremony is on.

Cheers
Alan

Posted by
5 posts

Hi Crystal and Alan,

Thank you both so much for this information. My husband and I are in Montenegro now, but arriving Athens for a month on March 7th. We will add this to our events to attend.

Cheers,
Debbi Custer

Posted by
1168 posts

Bad news: the actual torch lighting ceremony at Olympia has been stripped right back due to the coronavirus. Essentially it’s become a closed event.

No decision has been made yet about the ceremony in Athens. There’s a meeting on Thursday which will consider what to do about this. I’m keeping an eye on the Greek papers and will post an update if I see anything.

These just seem to be sensible precautions rather than a reason to really worry. The last I saw only seven cases have been confirmed in Greece.

Alan

Posted by
18 posts

As of March 8, 2020, according to Wikipedia, there are 73 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Greece. Several days ago there was an article in the Guardian news paper that schools at all levels and "archaeological sites" in several regions in Greece were closed. Also mentioned in that article was the fact that where the torch is lit for the Olympics has been "scaled back" to allow only a few "credentialed" persons to be in attendance. This is of significant concern to us as we have a RS trip to Greece scheduled to start on March 30. So far, neither the CDC in the US nor the WHO has recommended that persons to travel to Greece or reconsider it. But the uptick in reported, confirmed cases and the closing of sites that are on the itinerary are reasons that we shall be monitoring the situation very closely. I would be interested to hear the thoughts of others on that trip.

Posted by
1168 posts

A health spokesperson has just announced the cancellation of all events of over 1,000 people. This includes the Athens half marathon scheduled for two weeks time. I couldn’t see any explicit mention of the Torch ceremony but it seems highly unlikely it will go ahead as an open event.

Alan