Representatives of France’s Terre de Jeux 2024 collected soil from Ancient Olympia and have taken it back to France ahead of the 2024 Olympic Games.
Representatives collected a small amount of soil from ongoing excavations near the eastern portico of the Ancient Gymnasium in Ancient Olympia.
Thanasis Vassiliadis, the president of the Olympic Torch Relay Committee of the EOE, accompanied the French delegation and answered all questions regarding the Olympic Flame Lighting Ceremony.
The collection of soil was led by basketball player Emilie Gomis, who won the silver medal with the French team in the 2012 Olympic Games.
Olympia soil travels to Paris for the Olympic Games
The French delegation collected over two thousand grams of soil to transport back to Paris, and the collection was filmed for the purposes of a documentary. The Olympic flame will be lit according to tradition at Ancient Olympia and transported to France by boat.
The Gymnasium was chosen for symbolic reasons
The east portico of the Gymnasium was obviously chosen because the Gymnasium—along with the palaestra, which is right next to it to the south—served the needs of the athletes and their companions. However, this was only during the period of the Olympic Games since the preparation of the athletes took place in the Gymnasiums of Elis.
Furthermore, the complex was gradually constructed during the Hellenistic years, and its current form dates back to the 2nd century BC. It seems that it was purely a sports building since its facilities were not utilized for other educational activities.
The Gymnasium covered a rectangular space measuring 220 x 120 meters, which was open air and surrounded by arcades along all of its four sides. Its walls were made of ashlar in the lower parts, and the upper parts were made of brick. The roof was made of tile.