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Marseille (France) – “One, two, three… Europe!”: In Marseille, 27 athletes each representing a country of the European Union, all dressed in white, surround their relay team captain of the Olympic flame, Ukrainian gymnast Mariya Vysochanska, to show their solidarity with her war-torn country.

Against the backdrop of the Mucem, the museum of European and Mediterranean civilizations, the 21-year-old gymnast, a star in her country and a hopeful for a medal at the Paris Olympics (July 26 – August 11), lit her torch a few hours after the kickoff of the flame relay by Marseille football legend Basile Boli.

Then she passed it to her neighbor, Lithuanian rower Saulius Ritter, at the front line of an honor guard formed by the 27 EU athletes, amid the applause of dozens of spectators.

“Today is Europe Day. We agree that Ukraine is part of Europe, it’s an important message to convey,” said Ritter, a smiling giant of 2.02 meters to AFP. (09.05/2024)