The official lighting ceremony for the London 2012 Games will take place today, at the site of ancient Olympia in Greece. Attended by President of the International Olympic Committee Jacques Rogge, President of the Hellenic Olympic Committee Spyros Capralos, and the President of the Organizing Committee of Olympic Games London 2012 Sebastian Coe.
The ceremony which lasts for 35 minutes began with Greek actress Ino Menegaki playing the role of a high priestess, lighting the Olympic Flame directly from the sun's rays amid loud claps from the audience.
She then passes the sacred flame and then an olive branch, over to the first torchbearer, Spyros Gianniotis, a 32-year-old Greek world swimming champion. Gianniotis' was chosen as he was born in the United Kingdom but raised in Greece, which enabled him to be eligible for the honour to be selected as the first torchbearer in the lighting ceremony.He will pass it on to Alex Loukos, 19, the first British torchbearer, a boxer and, in 2005, one of a delegation of east London schoolchildren who travelled to Singapore as part of London's final bid for the Games.
The High Priestess then handed an Olive branch to a small boy and another Priestess released a pigeon which symbolized the peace and purity of the Games message.
Amid much financial and political turmoil,The torch will then tour Greece for 8 days. Where it will pass through the hands of 490 torchbearers. It will cross 26 provinces, 38 municipalities and 40 cities, visiting five archaeological sites, while 34 altar lighting ceremonies will be held in specific cities along the way.
The Olympic torch will arrive in the UK on May 18 and will be handed over to the delegation of the UK, to continue it's 70 day relay journey to the Olympic city of London.
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Written and Presented by Ann Salter