With only 112 days until the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, the Olympic flame was lit yesterday in Olympia, symbolically marking the beginning of the Torch Relay that will bring the flame to the shores of British Columbia.
The flame was lit successfully by a Holy Priestess in front of the Temple of Hera, according to the traditional ritual, using the sun's rays and a parabolic mirror. The priestess entered the Ancient Olympic Stadium with the torch and handed it over to the first runner of the Vancouver 2010 Torch Relay, Vassilis Dimitriadis. The Greek skier passed by the tomb where Pierre de Coubertin's heart is buried, to launch the journey of the Relay.
After a short relay in Greece, the flame will be passed to the Vancouver 2010 Organising Committee (VANOC) on 29 October in Athens, before being flown to Victoria, Canada, where it will arrive on 30 October. It will then travel through all 13 provinces and territories of Canada, involving 189 community celebrations and covering some 45,000 kilometres, before entering BC Place Stadium on 12 February 2010. More than 12,000 torchbearers will bring together tens of thousands of people to witness the event, bringing with it a symbolic message of peace across the country.
In the presence of the President of the Hellenic Olympic Committee, Mr Spyros Capralos, and the CEO of VANOC, John Furlong, IOC President Jacques Rogge said in his speech: "It is always a special moment to be in Olympia, the birthplace of our Movement. The Olympic torch and flame are symbols of the values and ideals which lie at the heart of the Olympic Games. The relay carries a message of friendship and respect to millions of people of different nationalities, races and creeds". "The longest national Olympic Torch Relay in history will create a spirit of global community and world citizenship. It will inspire new hopes, new dreams, particularly among the younger generation, to take part in the Games. It will invite Canadians and visitors from around the world to gather and celebrate the Games with glowing hearts", Rogge added. Three days ago, the UN General Assembly adopted the Olympic Truce Resolution for the Vancouver Games, inviting the UN member States to observe and promote peace during Games time in order to protect the interests of athletes and sport in general, and to contribute, through sport, to the quest for peaceful and diplomatic solutions to the world's conflicts. The Olympic Torch Relay that started today in Olympia will allow the people of the world to be inspired by this message of peace.