Olympic 2012 countdown begins with Olympic flame lit in Greece

Written on:May 10, 2023
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Tradition: High Priestess lights the 2012 Olympic flame (Photo: Reuters)

As preparations for 2012 London Olympic step up in the UK capital, the traditional ceremony of lighting the Olympic flame came to a flawless end in Greece today, officially ticking the countdown to the Games.

The traditional ceremony took place in front of the ruins of the Temple of Hera in Greece, the birthplace of the Ancient Games. London 2012 chairman Lord Coe and IOC president Jacques Rogg watched performers completing the elaborate torch-lighting routine wearing ancient costume.

Greek actress Ino Menegaki played the “high priestess” and lit the torch using the rays of the sun caught in a parabolic mirror at a ceremony in Olympia. The ceremony symbolises the Greek god of the sun guaranteeing the purity of the flame. The torch will now begin its 70-day relay tour of the UK after being passed around the Greek mainland and islands, carried by hundreds of torchbearers.


“The lighting of the Olympic flame is always a moment of great significance for the Olympic Movement”, said International Olympic Committee chief Jacques Rogge. Britain-born Greek 10 km swimming world champion Spyros Gianniotis was the first person to carry the flame.

He passed the torch to 19-year-old Alex Loukos from Newham, who was one of the youngest bid representatives when London won the right to host the Games back in 2005. The Olympic torch will now travel around Greece for a week before arriving in Cornwall on Friday May 18.

“This morning’s ceremony reminds us of the core mission and responsibility of London 2012 – to inspire young people”, said London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe addressing dignitaries and a large crowd gathered in the stadium.

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