London 2012 Olympic flame lit at Olympia

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2012 London Olympic flame lit at Olympia in Greece.

With only 78 days until the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games in London the Olympic flame was lit Thursday at Olympia in Greece.

The lighting symbolically marks the beginning of the torch relay that will bring the flame to the Olympic Stadium in London on July 27.In line with tradition, the flame was lit following the time-honored ritual of using the sun’s rays and a parabolic mirror, by a high priestess Ino Menegaki at the Temple of Hera in Ancient Olympia.

The priestess then entered the Ancient Olympic Stadium, in a procession choreographed by Artemis Ignatiou, and used the flame to ignite the torch of the first runner of the Relay, Spyros Gianniotis. A British-born Greek open water swimming world champion and three-time Olympian, Gianniotis then transferred the flame to Alex Loukos, one of London 2012’s young ambassadors in Singapore in 2005, who has Greek heritage and lives in London.

The Olympic flame will now begin an eight-day journey across Greece, travelling to the island of Crete before going to Piraeus, Thessalonica, Xanthi and Larissa among other areas before arriving in the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens, site of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896, on May 17 for the official Olympic Flame Handover Ceremony.

The Olympic flame will be flown to Great Britain the next day before the Olympic Torch Relay gets underway at Land’s End on May 19. The flame will visit more than 1,000 villages, towns and cities in the U.K. during its journey of 8,000 miles (12,875km) over 70 days carried by 8,000 torchbearers. The flame will end its journey at the Olympic Stadium on July 27 for the lighting of the cauldron at the Opening Ceremony, signifying the start of the London Games.