Olympic flame lit for London Games

The Olympic flame was lit in Ancient Olympia in Greece on Thursday, in a solemn ceremony filled with mystery and tradition that signals the final countdown to the start of this year's summer Games in London.

Actors in ancient Greek costume invoked the god Apollo in the ruins of the 2,600-year-old Temple of Hera, using a concave mirror to harness the sun's rays and kindle a flame on the torch for a relay that will take it around Greece and Britain.

Dignitaries at the ceremony included the president of the International Olympic Committee Jacques Rogge, as well as the head of the London organising committee, Sebastian Coe.

"We promise to protect the flame, to cherish its traditions and stage an uplifting torch relay of which we can be proud," Coe said in a speech, vowing the event would "lift the spirits and hopes of people across Britain and across the world".

After thanks to the god Apollo, "king of the sun and the idea of light", in the shadow of the Greek, British and Olympic flags, the flame was handed to the first relay runner, Greece's Liverpool-born open water swimming champion Spyros Gianniotis.

He then passed it to 19-year-old British boxer Alexander Loukos, whose father hails from the Greek island of Lesbos and grew up in the east London borough where the Olympic Stadium is situated.

Gianniotis said after the full rehearsal at the temple on Wednesday that the torch ceremony was "a very big moment" for him, adding: "It is very moving.

"I am trembling from the emotions. It is the highest honour for an athlete to do this."

The ceremony marks the start of a week-long torch relay, which will take it to five major Greek archaeological sites, including the Acropolis, before it arrives at the old Olympic stadium in Athens, site of the first modern Games in 1896.

A British delegation will receive the flame at a night-time ceremony on May 17.

The last flame-bearers in Greece will be the weight-lifter Pyrros Dimas and the Chinese gymnast Li Ning, who lit the cauldron at the last Olympics in Beijing in 2008.

The London Olympic Games torch will tour the United Kingdom and also visit the Republic of Ireland before it arrives at the Olympic Stadium in east London on July 27 to a worldwide television audience of billions.

The torch's route in Britain starts on May 19 at Land's End, the southernmost tip of England to begin an 8,000-mile (12,875-kilometre) journey.

From June 3-7, it will visit Northern Ireland and then the Republic of Ireland -- the only country outside the United Kingdom on the torch route.

The inclusion of the Republic of Ireland would have been unthinkable just a few years ago and shows the ever-closer ties between it and Northern Ireland, 14 years after a peace agreement largely ended three decades of sectarian strike in the north.

In mainland Britain, a soldier wounded in Afghanistan and a 100-year-old woman are among 7,300 people who will carry the torch, organisers have said.

Also among the torchbearers is Jim Redmond, the father of former British 400 metres runner Derek Redmond, who famously helped his injured son hobble across the line during the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

The torch relay culminates on July 27 with the final leg from Hampton Court palace, the riverside former home of king Henry VIII, to the Olympic Stadium for the opening ceremony that day.

The torch is a reminder of the ancient Olympics, when a flame burned throughout the Games. The tradition was revived in 1936 for the Olympics in Berlin.

No overseas legs of the torch relay have been planned this time round after those before the Beijing Games were hit by widespread protests against China.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Sandigan OKs hospital stay for GMA co-accused
    Sandigan OKs hospital stay for GMA co-accused

    The Sandiganbayan has allowed a government official, accused with plunder along with former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to undergo a medical procedure at a hospital tomorrow. The anti-graft court permitted former Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) board member Benigno Aguas to undergo a cardiopulmonary/endocrine clearance at the St. Luke’s Medical Center in Quezon City. …

  • Sandigan recommends executive clemency for ex-envoy
    Sandigan recommends executive clemency for ex-envoy

    The Sandiganbayan has recommended executive clemency for a former Philippine ambassador to Nigeria who was sentenced to 52 years for malversation of public funds. The Sandiganbayan First Division found Masaranga Umpa guilty of misusing the Assistance-To-Nationals Stand-by Funds totaling $80,478.80 in 2007, but the anti-graft court said the former assemblyman from Lanao del Norte should be pardoned. …

  • Stargazing at the mall highlights Earth Hour
    Stargazing at the mall highlights Earth Hour

    It was a night of stargazing in 58 SM Supermalls all over the country last night as these establishments participated in Earth Hour, an annual worldwide movement encouraging communities and establishments to switch off lights for one hour to raise global awareness of overuse of non-renewable resources. The Philippines has been an active participant of Earth Hour since 2008. Last night, in the province of Bulacan, for instance, all parishes, diocesan institutions, schools and household …

  • Payanig privatization hit
    Payanig privatization hit

    BLEMP Commercial of the Philippines, Inc. (BLEMP) denounced the recent announcement of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) to privatize the 18.4-hectare “Payanig sa Pasig” property. In a statement sent to The STAR, BLEMP lawyer Dennis Manalo said the PCGG has no right to auction the property because it has no valid title and is not in possession. The PCGG has not paid a single centavo in real property taxes for the property, he said. He narrated that it was in the early 70s …

  • New species of tarantula found
    New species of tarantula found

    Scientists from the Museum of Natural History (MNH) of the University of the Philippines-Los Baños have discovered a new species of cave-dwelling tarantula on an island off the coast of Quezon. The new species of the spider, Phlogiellus kwebaburdeos, was described in the recent issue of the Philippine Journal of Systematic Biology by MNH curators for spiders Aimee Lynn Dupo and Alberto Barrion along with their former student Joseph Rasalan. The tarantula was discovered by Rasalan during one …

  • Palm Sunday: Do not add to suffering of others
    Palm Sunday: Do not add to suffering of others

    As Christendom enters Holy Week today, Palm Sunday, an official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) yesterday called on the faithful not to add to the sufferings of their fellowmen. Jerome Secillano, executive secretary of the CBCP-Episcopal Commission on Public Affairs (ECPA), said that while Palm Sunday is oftentimes remembered as the glorious arrival of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem, it also signals the start of the Holy Week that tells of His suffering, death and …

  • Miriam pushes tougher graft law
    Miriam pushes tougher graft law

    Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago has filed a bill that would make public officials liable for violations of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act even if they are elected to a fresh term or a new position. In filing Senate Bill 2716, Santiago sought to address what she said was the doctrine of condonation in Philippine jurisprudence brought about by the 2010 case of Salumbides vs. Ombudsman. “By merely asserting the doctrine of condonation, erring elective officials are automatically given a …

  • Phl hits back at China over sea infra work
    Phl hits back at China over sea infra work

    The Philippines assailed China yesterday for contesting Manila’s planned repair and maintenance works on some islands in the West Philippine Sea, saying they are “in no way comparable” to the Asian power’s massive reclamation activities which are in violation of international laws. “The Philippines’ possible undertaking of necessary maintenance and repairs on its existing facilities in the West Philippine Sea, over which the Philippines rightfully exercises sovereignty, sovereign rights and …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options