YOGYAKARTA, Indonesia — The Asian Games torch is headed out on an 18,000-kilometer journey around Indonesia after ceremonies at an ancient temple where its flame was combined with a sacred Javanese fire.
Jakarta and the Sumatran city of Palembang are hosting the games from Aug. 18 to Sept. 2. About 9,000 athletes and several thousand officials and journalists are expected to take part.
In a ceremony Wednesday at the 1,000-year-old Prambanan temple, the torch was touched with the Mrapen eternal flame that comes from a natural gas fire in a Javanese village.
Local lore says the flame, used in annual Buddhist ceremonies, has burned since the 15th century.
The organizing committee of the games said the month-long torch relay will take it through 54 cities before arriving at the renovated Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta for the opening ceremony.
Committee chairman Erick Thohir said the torch relay, which begins after further ceremonies in the sultanate of Yogyakarta on Thursday, aims to “spread the spirit” of the games to all corners of Indonesia.
The torch was lit in New Delhi, the host of the first-ever Asian Games in 1951, on Sunday and arrived in Indonesia on Tuesday. The flame was kept alive in a special lantern during the flight.