Site of ancient Olympics saved as Greek firefighters battle flames

Greek residents watch the smoke from wildfires
Getty Images

The site of the ancient Olympic Games in Greece was saved Thursday as firefighters battle blazes around southern Greece, which along with the devastating wildfires in Turkey and other areas along the Mediterranean have forced widespread evacuations. 

Reuters reported that Greek Culture Minister Lina Mendoni said fire officials were able to keep the blaze away from the archeological site of Olympia, where the games were held every four years for more than a millennium starting in 776 B.C. 

The historical site, which had previously been threatened by fires in 2007, has remained one of Greece’s most popular tourist attractions. It is also where the Olympic flame begins its journey to the cities hosting the modern games. 

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis visited the site on Thursday, where he said that the country “is facing an unprecedented environmental crisis, with multiple large fires,” according to The Associated Press

Reuters reported that more than a dozen villages on the Greek island of Evia near Athens have been evacuated since Tuesday, adding that roughly 85 people were rescued by boat from a local beach. 

On Wednesday, the European Union’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) said that the Mediterranean has become a wildfire hotspot, with Turkey setting a record for the most powerful fire since “fire radiative power” started to be tracked in 2003.

In total, an estimated eight people have died since the fires broke out last week, according to Reuters. 

Virginijus Sinkevicius, the EU commissioner for the environment, has blamed the intensity of the fires on climate change, tweeting Thursday, “We are fighting some of the worst #wildfires we’ve seen in decades.” 

“But this summer’s floods, heatwaves and forest fires can become our new normality,” he added. “We must ask ourselves: is this the world we want to live in?”

Officials are warning that the fires are likely to worsen in the coming days, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan describing his country’s blazes as the worst Turkey has ever suffered as thousands have been forced to flee amid the destruction of tens of thousands of hectares of forest.

Tags Ancient Greece Climate change European Union Greece Olympic Games Reuters The Associated Press Wildfire wildfires

Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

See all Hill.TV See all Video

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video