By Sportswriters Su Bin, Liu Ning
PYEONGCHANG, Feb. 8 (Xinhua) -- With just one day to go before the opening ceremony, PyeongChang is ready to embrace another Olympic Games in South Korea some 30 years after the 1988 Seoul Olympics, as the 101-day torch relay approaches its climax in the eastern Asian country.
Several creative innovations were introduced into the torch relay, including the first-ever appearance of robots when the relay reached Daejeon, a hub of science and technology, last December.
The Olympic flame started its journey at ancient Olympia, Greece on October 24, 2017. Due to cloudy and rainy weather, some changes were made as Greek actress Katerina Lehou, in the role of a High Priestess, did not use a concave mirror to ignite the torch with the sun's rays.
This time, instead, she lit the torch from a replica of an ancient urn where the Sacred Flame was kept from previous day's successful dress rehearsal. She then passed the torch to the first torchbearer, Greek cross country skier Apostolos Angelis.
"With these Games we will carry the Olympic Games into a bright future," International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said at the ceremony.
Following an eight-day stay in the origin of the modern Olympics, the flame was handed over to South Korean organizers prior to its second stage throughout the host country covering a total of 2,018 km in as many as 101 days before reaching the main venue for the opening ceremony.
A 16-member delegation including honorary ambassador Kim Yuna, the 2010 Winter Olympic women's figure skating gold medalist, brought the flame to South Korea on a chartered plane on November 1, 2017.
Themed "Let Everyone Shine," the relay aims to bring excitement and to create a nationwide Olympic atmosphere, also displaying South Korean culture to the world through various celebratory activities and means of transportation during the relay.
The route passed through nine provinces and eight major cities nationwide, featuring a total of 7,500 runners to represent the entire 75 million people residing on the Korean peninsula.
With Beijing hosting the next Winter Olympics in 2022, Chinese figures were involved in the relay this time around, including former Olympic freestyle skiing champion Han Xiaopeng, short track speed skater Liu Qiuhong, entrepreneurs from the Chinese sports industry Ding Shizhong and Zheng Jie. World-famous movie star Jackie Chan will reportedly be among torchbearers on Friday.
As the relay will shortly come to an end, one question remains: who will light the Olympic cauldron at the PyeongChang Olympic Stadium on Friday night? Only time will tell.
The 2018 PyongChang Winter Olympic Games will run from February 9-25.