Exclusive: Olympics - Paris 2024 plans Games relay changes, fewer torches, source says

BERLIN, March 21 (Reuters) - Paris 2024 Olympic torchbearers may not all get to keep their torches as a cherished memento of the Games because organisers plan to cut down on the number made in the name of sustainability, a source told Reuters.

It is still unclear how many torches, which usually burn a mixture of gases, will be produced for the thousands of runners who will take part in next year's relay ahead of the July 26-Aug. 11 summer Olympics.

But organisers are planning changes to the traditional months-long relay across the host nation to make it more environmentally friendly and sustainable.

There will also be far fewer torches than the several thousand usually produced for an Olympic relay by host cities, the source close to the torch lighting and relay planning process told Reuters.

Olympic Games torch bearers, who run a few hundred metres each with their torch before using it to ignite the torch of the next runner, can usually buy the torch as a souvenir of their participation.

"The organisers are planning not to use individual torches for each of the runners," the source said. "They are planning to produce fewer and the reasons cited are sustainability concerns."

The Olympic rings are seen in front of the Hotel de Ville City Hall in Paris, France, March 14, 2023. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

The relay in the host country starts after the torch-lighting ceremony in Greece's Olympia, the site of the ancient Games.

No dates have been announced for the torch-lighting ceremony in Greece and the start of the relay in April 2024 in France after the flame arrives in the southern port of Marseille.

Paris organisers told Reuters there would still be the traditional passing of the flame from one torch to the next between runners in a more environmentally friendly model of the relay.

"With a view to reducing our environmental impact we are thinking of another model so that everyone can keep a souvenir of this unique moment and share it with their entourage and the greatest number of people," a Paris 2024 official told Reuters.

Organisers did not comment on the number of torches to be produced, saying it was still "a work in progress."

The Tokyo Games relay in 2021 used some 10,000 torch bearers. More than 12,000 ran with the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic flame, while the London 2012 summer Olympics had more than 8,000 torch bearers.

Reporting by Karolos Grohmann and Julien Pretot; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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