Olympic Flame gets a sponsor

Electronics firm Samsung, an international sponsor of next summer’s Olympiad, was named official sponsor of the Athens Olympics torch relay, at a signing ceremony in the Greek capital yesterday. Il-Hyung Chang, senior vice president, chief communications officer and head of Olympic projects at Samsung Electronics, who signed the deal, also presented projects being promoted and implemented within the framework of the firm’s marketing program. It was also announced that the recently retired Australian sports icon Cathy Freeman, a 400-meter gold medalist at the Sydney Olympics, will launch the torch relay. She will continue from where she left off three years ago. Freeman, 30, who retired from athletics earlier this year, not long after taking considerable time off from competition to treat her unwell husband, was the last torchbearer at the Sydney Olympics. The torch relay leading to the Athens Olympics will be the most ambitious staged in the history of the Games. Its epic journey, to span more than two months, will involve approximately 10,000 torchbearers through some 25 countries, including all former Olympic host cities. The itinerary includes plans for the first-ever relays in South America and Africa, in Egypt, where the flame will pass by the Pyramids. Beijing, site of the 2008 Olympics, is also included in the route to end in Athens on August 13. It could be the last of its kind. In June, an International Olympic Committee commission presented various recommendations to contain the costs of organizing the Olympics, including limiting the torch relay to the host country. The torch relay for the Athens Olympics has not been without incident. Some cities have complained about demands by the 2004 hosts to display sponsors and select torchbearers. Some also feel that Athens should help cover the costs. Athens organizers have said their costs will reach about 20 million euros, with additional outlays to be covered by sponsors. At yesterday’s marketing launch in Athens, Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, president of Athens 2004, the upcoming Olympiad’s coordinating committee, noted: «Samsung is the ideal Olympic presenting partner. The company has a deep and genuine commitment to the Olympic Games.»  She likened the company’s international presence to the globetrotting torch relay. «Their global reach perfectly complements Athens’ torch relay – the first truly global relay in Olympic history,» said Angelopoulos-Daskalaki. «And, like the Olympic athletes who will compete in Athens next year, Samsung is driven to be the best in the world at what they do.»