London 2012: Olympic Flame handover ceremony to begin
The Olympic Flame Handover Ceremony is about to begin in Greece.
During the ceremony, which starts at 7pm local time (5pm British time) at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens, the Olympic Flame will be handed to the British London 2012 delegation, led by The Princess Royal.
The Flame will be flown from Athens to RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall tomorrow, ahead of the start of the Olympic Torch relay on Saturday morning.
Since being lit in Ancient Olympia last week, the Olympic Flame has been taken on a relay around Greece, visiting places including Crete, Thessalonica and Larissa.
Today’s handover ceremony at the Panathenaic Stadium will begin with the Olympic Anthem and will be followed by the national anthems of the United Kingdom and Greece.
The High Priest and Priestesses will then come into the Stadium and position themselves around the altar.
The last torchbearers, Chinese gymnast Li Ning, who was the final torchbearer at Beijing in 2008 and lit the torch in the Olympic Stadium, and Greek weightlifter Pyrros Dimas, will arrive and light the cauldron.
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Usually there is only one final torchbearer but the Hellenic Olympic Committee (HOC) this year decided on two. The committee said: “The last torchbearers will be this time, two in number and their presence will be symbolically linking the past Olympic Games in Beijing, with Greece, the birthplace of the institution and the upcoming Games in London.”
Spyros Capralos, the president of the HOC will make a speech, followed by a speech by Seb Coe, chairman of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG).
The Olympic Flame will then be handed to the British delegation, who will leave the Stadium around 7.45pm local time (5.45pm British time).
Also attending the handover ceremony are London mayor Boris Johnson, Olympics minister Hugh Robertson, former England football captain David Beckham and five young people from across Britain, including Sakinah Muhammad from Clapton Girls’ Academy, Hackney.
On Friday they will fly on a gold painted British Airways plane back to Britain.