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Football star Park to be first South Korean to carry Games flame

Park Ji-sung will be the second torchbearer in Olympia after Greece’s Nordic skier Apostolos Aggelis at the start of the Greek relay.

FILE: Manchester United's Ji-sung Park chases the ball during the friendly football match between Manchester United's Legends and Barcelona's Legends at Old Trafford in Manchester, north-west England, on September 2, 2017. Picture: AFP

ATHENS - Champions League winner Park Ji-sung will be the first South Korean to carry the flame for the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics after the torch lighting ceremony in Olympia next week, the Greek Olympic committee said on Thursday.

Park, 36, who won a string of titles with Manchester United and Eindhoven before retiring, will be the second torchbearer in Olympia, site of the ancient Greek Olympics, after Greece’s Nordic skier Apostolos Aggelis at the start of the Greek relay.

The ceremony, where a torch is lit by the sun’s rays using a parabolic mirror, will start the countdown to the 9-25 February Games and South Korean organisers will receive the flame in a handover ceremony in Athens on 31 October.

The flame will then travel to South Korea for the Games torch relay run across the country.

The Pyeongchang Olympics will be Asia’s first Winter Olympics staged outside Japan and the first of three consecutive Summer and Winter Games on the continent.

Tokyo will host the Summer Games of 2020 and Beijing will stage the 2022 Winter Olympics.

South Korean preparations have been hampered by delays and an escalating crisis with North Korea.

Tensions have soared following a series of weapons tests by North Korea and a string of increasingly bellicose exchanges between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

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