Olympic torch lit in Athens as Games countdown begins

The countdown to the Athens 2004 Olympic Games began today with the lighting of the Olympic flame in ancient Olympia, Greece.

The lighting ceremony featured a high priestess who lit the Olympic flame in the Temple of Hera using a parabolic mirror to capture the sun’s rays and ignite an Olympic torch. In ancient Greece, the fire symbolised the creation of the world, as well as renewal and light.

The flame-lighting event was the beginning of the torch relay which head across Greece for seven days, before the relay proper which will take the flame across the globe over the next 78 days.

The Athens 2004 Torch Relay, themed 'Pass the flame, unite the world', will bring the flame to every city that has hosted the Olympic Summer Games, as well as 2008 host city Beijing and other select cities on the international route.

The flame will be carried by more than 11,000 torchbearers throughout the world and Greece.


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