The cauldron is set to be lit at the Opening Ceremony tonight ©Minsk 2019

The lighting of the cauldron in Dinamo Stadium in Minsk will tonight provide the spectacular climax to the European Games Opening Ceremony.

On the eve of the Games, the Flame visited the botanical gardens in Minsk where the first bearer was ex-ice hockey star Alexey Kalyuzhny, a former Belarus player of the year and a star forward with Dinamo Minsk and the national team in a career spanning 20 years.

People’s Artist Valentin Elizariev carried the Flame up the steps of Bolshoi Theatre and was greeted by a full orchestra playing in the open air.

The safety lamp was later placed in the theatre stalls during rehearsals.

Minsk 2019 chief executive Georgiy Katulin was also a bearer and joined athletes at a welcome ceremony in the Village. 

The Flame will not be seen in public again until it arrives at the stadium tonight.

Minsk 2019 mascot Lesik the baby fox plays his part in the party atmosphere at the Athletes' Village ©Minsk 2019
Minsk 2019 mascot Lesik the baby fox plays his part in the party atmosphere at the Athletes' Village ©Minsk 2019

The Relay had captivated much of the host nation during its 50-day progress from Rome.

In May, a trio of Belarusian Olympic champions spanning the generations received the Flame of Peace.

Yulia Nesterenko, Olympic 100m champion in 2004, was joined by Rio 2016 trampoline gold medallist Udislau Hancharou and four-times Olympic fencing champion Elena Belova.

The Flame left the Eternal City flanked by Harley Davidson motorcycles ridden by members of The One Chapter Belarus, who escorted the Torch throughout its journey.

"I was especially surprised by these strong guys on bikes who have already covered thousands of kilometres," said Austria’s Chef de Mission Christoph Sieber, an Olympic sailing champion at Sydney 2000.

Before reaching Belarus, the Flame had toured neighbouring countries. 

Climbers from the Belarus Mountaineering Federation had ascended to the summit of Mont Blanc as the first great set piece of the relay.

In Budapest, 98-year-old Ágnes Keleti, the oldest living Olympic champion, carried the Flame in one of the most poignant moments.

Keleti won five Olympic gold medals in gymnastics despite a career disrupted by the war and civil strife in her homeland.

In the Czech Republic, the Flame was taken to Brno where the Czech Olympic Committee had organised a sports activity day and in Poland, the Torch arrived at the Jean Paul II Olympic Centre in Warsaw.

It later took centre stage at the Polish "Olympic Picnic", an annual sports festival.

When the Relay reached Belarusian soil in Brest, Nesterenko was on hand to carry the Flame for a second time and Hancharou later repeated his opening-night run, although this time for rather longer than the few metres in Rome.

As the Flame made its way through the regions of Belarus, great prominence was given to the liberation from Nazi occupation in 1944. 

When the Flame reached the outskirts of Minsk, the runners visited the Mound of Glory memorial.

It had earlier journey to Mir Castle where it was greeted by guards in medieval costume and also the national parks of Belarus, to emphasise a connection with the environment.

Although performers in the Opening Ceremony were put through their paces with the a sunlit final rehearsal yesterday, the lighting of the cauldron remains a closely-guarded secret.

Speculation about the identity of the final runners will intensify.

Biathlon superstar Dariya Domracheva has already carried the Flame but those from earlier in the relay have often appeared at its climax. 

That could also apply to Belova and perhaps even the man who lit the Minsk cauldron at the 1980 Olympics, wrestler Alexander Medved.

Then there are gymnasts such as Nelli Kim, a Minsk ambassador. 

One other name not yet mentioned is Olga Korbut, perhaps the most famous Belarusian gymnast of them all. 

Whoever is chosen, the Minsk 2019 organisers are not short of options.