Paris (Reuters) – Chef Alexandre Mazzia has been named among the torchbearers for the Paris 2024 Olympics, leading a star-studded lineup for the relay that will start the flame’s France leg in his town of Marseille, the Games’ sponsors announced on Monday.

Mazzia, who settled in Marseille in 2010, picked up a third Michelin star in 2021 for his ‘AM’ restaurant.

In an Instagram post, Mazzie wrote, “As the bearer of this flame, I feel the weight of history and the responsibility that accompanies this gesture. The Olympic Games are much more than a sporting competition, they are times when the whole world comes together, transcending borders and differences, to celebrate excellence, fair play and camaraderie.”

Former 110 meters hurdles world champion Ladji Doucoure was also named among the 11,000 torchbearers as well as France rugby player Anthony Jelonch, soccer world champion Christian Karembeu, and 2016 Olympics boxing silver medalist Sarah Ourahmoune.

Greek Olympic rowing champion Stefanos Ntouskos will be the first torchbearer after the lighting ceremony in Greece’s Olympia, birthplace of the ancient Games.

The Olympic flame will be lit in Olympia on Apr. 16 in a traditional ceremony with an actress playing a high priestess igniting the torch using a parabolic mirror and the sun.

“Carrying the Olympic flame is not only an individual honor, it is a privilege shared with all those who contributed to my training, my passion for sport and my commitment to the Olympic ideals. It is a tribute to the teachings of elders, the sacrifices of mentors, and the trust my community has placed in me,” says Alexandre Mazzia.

The high priestess will pass the flame to Ntouskos, who won gold in the men’s single sculls at the Tokyo Games in 2021, at the edge of the ancient Olympic stadium in Olympia.

After an 11-day relay across mainland Greece and seven of its islands, with the help of 600 torchbearers, the flame will be handed to Paris Games organizers in Athens on Apr. 26.

Greece’s water polo Olympic silver medalist Ioannis Fountoulis will be the final torchbearer.

The flame will depart on board a three-masted ship, the “Belem,” for the French port city of Marseille, where the sailing competitions at the Olympics will take place, for the start of the French leg of the relay.

The Paris Olympics will be held from July 26-Aug. 11.

(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Ken Ferris)