London 2012: Olympic Flame to be lit in Greece

The Olympic Flame will be lit in Greece today ahead of its journey to Britain.

Using the sun’s rays at the Temple of Hera in Olympia, the flame will be lit in a traditional hour-long ceremony organised by the Hellenic Olympic Committee (HOC) among the historic ruins of the home of the ancient Games.

Following the lighting the flame will be taken on an eight-day relay around Greece before the official Olympic Flame Handover Ceremony in Athens on May 17.

A team including International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge, Hellenic Olympic Committee president Spyros Capralos and London 2012 chairman Seb Coe, will attend today’s flame lighting.

In front of the ancient ruins of the Temple of Hera, an actress playing the role of a high priestess will light the flame by the rays of the sun in a parabolic mirror.

The flame is then placed in an urn and taken to the ancient stadium where Spyros Gianniotis, 32, the world champion 10km swimmer, will be waiting to begin the first leg of the torch relay across Greece.

He will pass the flame to 19-year-old Alex Loukos, who was one of the 30 East End schoolchildren who travelled to Singapore in 2005 as part of the closing presentations for London’s bid.

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Mr Loukos, a keen boxer who went to Langdon School, has been training for his role as the second torchbearer by running around the streets near his East Ham home.

The flame will visit Crete, Piraeus, Thessalonica, Xanthi and Larissa, among other places, in a relay around the Greek mainland and islands.

The torchbearers are taking it from Ancient Olympia to the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens, where the first modern Olympics were held in 1896, for the handover to London on May 17.

The flame reaches Cornwall on May 18 and the torch relay around Britain starts on May 19.