Japan Airlines flew a Boeing 787 to Greece previously. However, this flight was not like any other flight. In fact, the Boeing 787 registered as JA837J was undergoing a very special mission. The aircraft was en-route to gather the Olympic Flame ahead of the Tokyo Olympic.

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Every four years in Athens, the Olympic 2020 flame is lit for that year’s summer Olympics. It then goes on to head to the host country of the games. In 2008 this was Beijing, 2012 saw the flame head to London, and in 2016 it flew to Rio de Janeiro. However, now, it is Tokyo’s turn to host the Olympic 2020.

Conveying a flame from one side of the world to another isn’t an easy feat. You could travel by land, which would take an age, or there is air travel. But hang on? Isn’t a flame classed as unsafe goods?

Well, yes, typically aircraft try to avoid flames at all costs. However, given its symbolism, the Olympic 2020 flame is given a special dispensation. In order to transport the flame, it is placed into a special container, which is then attended by guards who are trained in firefighting in case anything happens.

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It is typically the role of the national carrier of the host nation to collect the flame from Athens. In this case, that is JAL. The Japanese flag carrier has redecorated one of its Boeing 787-8 aircraft in a singular dress to mark the occasion. However, ANA is also contained in this duty, despite the plane being provided by JAL.

This aircraft, JA837J departed from Tokyo Haneda at 13:07 local time or 06:07 Greek time. It then flew North up through Russia until it reached Europe. The flying then skirted around Ukraine passing throughout Belarus, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria before incoming Greek airspace. It then moved down in Athens at 18:23 local time, 01:23 the next day Japanese time.

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