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Greece: Olympic Flame Lighting Ceremony for the Games Beijing 2008

(www.chinaview.cn)  The official Olympic flame lighting ceremony for the Olympic Games Beijing 2008 video:  http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2008-03/24/content_7850470.htm       
OLYMPIA, Greece, March 24 (Xinhua)  The Beijing Olympic flame was ignited in a traditional sun-ray ceremony on 11:45 on Monday at the Hera Temple of Ancient Olympia.

The head priestess, Greece's actress Maria Nafpliotou, raises the torch of Olympic flame during the flame lighting ceremony for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games held in Olympia,            Greece,         March    24, 2008. (Xinhua Photo)

The head priestess, Greece’s actress Maria Nafpliotou, raises the torch of Olympic flame during the flame lighting ceremony for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games held in Olympia, Greece, March 24, 2008. (Xinhua Photo)   Photo Gallery>>>

    Dark clouds over Olympia troubled Olympic flame lighting rehearsal parted at last Monday with a flawless torch lighting ceremony heralding the unprecedented torch relay.

    The High Priestess Maria Nafpliotou lit the flame out of a concave, burnished steel mirror. Then the flame was transported in a replica of an ancient urn to the ancient Olympia stadium where it was to kindle the first Olympic torch.

Greek actress Maria Nafpliotou (R), playing the role of a high priestess, kindles a pot with the Olympic flame during the Olympic Flame Lighting Ceremony in Olympia, Greece, March 24, 2008. (Xinhua Photo) 

    High Priestess Maria Nafpliotou handed over the torch to the first torchbearer, 2004 Olympic silver medallist in taekwondo (80kg) Alexandros Nikolaidis, who carried it to kick off the relay in Greece, across five continents and China.

    Prior to the lighting, Nafpliotou and 20 female priestesses — all wearing pleated white dresses and sandals — performed an ancient ritual. Following a short dancing ceremony on the slope of ancient Olympia stadium, the High Priestess ignited the first Beijing Olympic torch.

    The Olympic Anthem, the National Anthem of China, the National Anthem of Greece were played and the Olympic Flag, the Chinese Flag and the Greek Flag were hoisted before the lighting ceremony.

    The speeches were given by the mayor of Ancient Olympia Georgios Aidonis, President of the International Olympic Committee Jacques Rogge, President of the Hellenic Olympic Committee Minos Kyriakou as well as the President of the Beijing Organizing Committee of Olympic Games Liu Qi.

President of the International Olympic Committee Jacques Rogge addresses the Olympic flame lighting ceremony of the Games, in Olympia, Greece, March 24, 2008. (Xinhua Photo) 

    “Today will lead to the opening of the first ever Olympic Games in China, where one fifth of the world’s population is longing for them,” said Rogge.

    “By crossing five continents and visiting 21 cities throughout the world, and more than 100 cities in mainland China, the 2008 Olympic Torch Relay prepares the way to Beijing.

    “The messengers will be citizens, young or old, able or disabled, athletes and members of the Olympic Movement, who are all eager to promote what each one of us can contribute to a better world.”

    Among the dignitaries were Prime Minister of Greece Kostas Karamanlis, President of Greece Karolos Papoulias and former IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch.

    “Let me first express our heartfelt gratitude to their excellencies the President and Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic for their presence at the ceremony, which fully demonstrates the friendly sentiments of the Greek Government and people towards the Chinese people,” said Liu Qi.

Liu Qi, president of the Organizing Committee for the Beijing Olympic Games, addresses the Olympic flame lighting ceremony of the Games, in Olympia, Greece, March 24, 2008. (Xinhua Photo) 

    “China and Greece, standing as ancient civilizations with long histories, have made outstanding contributions to human progress.

    “Today, the Olympic flame, representing the transcendent human spirit, will be lit once again. Burning in the torch of the Beijing Olympic Games, the flame will travel over mountains and seas across the globe, our common homeland.”

    “The Olympic flame will radiate light and happiness, peace and friendship, and hope and dreams to the people of China and the whole world. Its rays will light up the starry skies during the Beijing Olympic Games.”

    Other prominent torch runners on the first day included 2004 Olympic champion Luo Xuejuan in 100 meters backstroke and double Olympic champion of table tennis in 1996 Atlanta Olympics Deng Yaping. Luo was the first Chinese to hold the Beijing Olympic flame after taking it from Nikolaidis.

Athens Olympic champion swimmer Luo Xuejuan (R) runs during the torch relay of the Beijing Olympic Games in Olympia of Greece on March 24, 2008. (Xinhua Photo) 

    According to the schedule, the Olympic flame will be handed over to BOCOG at 3 p.m. at Panathenian Stadium in Athens.

    In Greek leg, the sacred flame will pass through 16 prefectures, 43 municipalities, 12 municipality districts, and 4 communities inthe hands of 605 torchbearers. En route, a total of 29 ceremonies will be held to celebrate the flame.

    The torch will roam the island for six days, staying one night each in Mesologi, Ioannina, Vera, Thessaloniki, and Lamia, after which it will reach Athens.

    The Olympic flame is to arrive in Beijing on March 31. A welcome ceremony will be held at Tian’anmen Square, heart of the host city of the 2008 Olympic Games.

    After the Greek leg, the Beijing Olympic torch relay covers three parts, the relay outside the mainland of China, in the mainland of China and Mt. Qomolangma exhibition.

    The Olympic flame will visit 21 cities outside Mainland of China across six continents and travel across 113 cities and regions of all 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities in the mainland China until it returns to Beijing on Aug. 6.

Sacred flame lights its way throughGreece

Sacred flame lights its way through Greece
Map of Greek leg of Beijing 2008 Olympic Torch Relay (Photo credit: HOC)

(BEIJING, March 17) — The Hellenic Olympic Committee (HOC) has provided information regarding the route the Olympic torch will take as it travels through Greece. A map detailing the Greek leg of the journey has been released on its website. According to reports, the sacred flame will pass through 16 prefectures, 43 municipalities, 12 municipality districts, and 4 communities in the hands of 605 torchbearers. En route, a total of 29 ceremonies will be held to celebrate the flame.On March 24, the traditional torch lighting ceremony will take place in Ancient Olympia, with High Priestess Maria Nafpliotou presiding. She will hand over the torch to the first torchbearer, 2004 Olympic silver medalist in taekwondo (80 kg) Alexandros Nikolaidis, who will carry it towards its first destination, Pirgos.The torch will roam the country for six days, staying one night each in Mesologi, Ioannina, Veria, Thessaloniki, and Lamia, after which it will reach Athens. The last torchbearer, 2004 Greek silver medalist in the triple jump, Pigi Devetzi, will transport the torch to Panathenian Stadium on March 30. Here, in Athens, during a transfer ceremony, the torch will be placed in the waiting hands of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG).Olympic Torch International Route
Olympic torch relay route
Torch lit in Olympia on 24 March and taken on five-day relay around Greece to Athens
After handover ceremony, it is taken to Beijing on 31 March to begin a journey of 136,800 km (85,000 miles) around the world
Torch arrives in Macao on 3 May. After three-month relay all around China, it arrives in Beijing for opening ceremony on 8 August
The official website