Siberian children will start Winter Olympic flame relay

Athens, May 7 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Children from one of the world’s most remote regions will start the Olympic flame relay for next year’s Winter Games in Sochi.

The children from the city of Yakutsk, the capital of Russia’s vast and sparsely populated Siberian region of Yakutia, will start the flame’s 65,000-km journey after it is lit in a ceremony at Olympia.

The high-profile role is an unusual benefit of a town twinning agreement, Yakutsk mayor Aisen Nikolaev said.

“Children from Olympia’s twin towns carry the flame after it is lit in ancient Olympia. Last year, for example, after the flame was lit for the London Olympics, children from a twin town in Japan carried the flame,” he said while visiting Greece as part of a trade delegation.

“Now there’s already an agreement that the flame for the Sochi Olympics will be carried by children from Yakutsk.”

The torch relay for Sochi 2014 will start October 7 this yer and is set to be the longest in history. The Games will run from February 7 to 23 next year.

The region of Yakutia is home to fewer than a million people despite covering more than three million square km, enough to make it the largest sub-national region in the world. Yakutsk has a population of around 270,000 and is a center for the diamond trade.

Since 1996, Yakutia has hosted the Children of Asia games, a continent-wide competition with a program of 17 sports.

–IANS/RIA Novosti

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