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Paris Olympic 2024: Torch relay begins

French torchbearer Basile Boli participates in the first stage of the Olympic torch relay at the Notre Dame de La Garde basilica in Marseille, southern France, on May 9, 2024.   -  
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Thibault Camus/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.


**The Olympic torch began Thursday (May. 9) its 11-week journey across mainland and overseas France.

Former footballer Basile Boli carried the flame through the streets of the French southern port city of Marseille.

Boli, who played with the Marseille team in the 1990s, launched the first relay from the Notre Dame de la Garde basilica that overlooks Marseille and the Mediterranean.

About 10,000 bearers will carry the torch which will pass through more than 450 towns until the Games' opening ceremony in Paris on July 26.

“I’m very proud, you know, because I see my city, Marseille, amazing, so I’ very happy to do that,” Boli said all smiles.

He passed the flame to doyenne fan of the Marseille football club Olympique de Marseille Colette Cataldo.

On Wednesday (May. 8), Marseille celebrated the flame's arrival with great fanfare, with more than 230,000 people at the ceremony in the Old Port.

The torch was lit in Greece last month before it was officially handed to France.

READ ALSO: Paris 2024 summer Olympics: here is the journey of the Olympic flame

Basketball player Tony Parker will take his turn in the relay later Thursday. A fencing champion, a skateboarder, a Michelin-starred chef and a comedian were also chosen to carry the flame.

Participants were scheduled to run all day through the most emblematic places of the city to bring the torch on the roof of the famed Stade Velodrome, home to Marseille’s passionate football fans.

During the Games, the sailing competition and some soccer matches will be held in Marseille.

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