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Olympic Flame handed from Greece to Beijing

(ATHENS NEWS AGENCY) The Olympic Flame was turned over to the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games organisers on Sunday 30 March afternoon during an internationally televised ceremony at Athens’ venerable Panathinaiko Stadium, the site for the first modern Olympic Games in 1896, essentially inaugurating the reverse countdown for the closely watched upcoming Summer Games. (The Beijing Olympic Torch Relay 2008: torchrelay.beijing2008.cn/en  ; Beijing 2008 Olympic Games: en.beijing2008.cn  )Pigi Devetzi, Greece‘s silver Olympic medallist in the long jump, was the last runner to bring a torch carrying the flame into the U-shaped marble-covered stadium. Earlier, several torch-bearers – all noted Greek athletes and personalities – individually transported the flame from atop the Acropolis to the stadium, as a crowd that included numerous Chinese officials and tourists waited under a sunny Athenian sky.A torch bearing the Olympic flame was handed to Beijing Organizing Committee (BOCOG) President Liu Qi by Hellenic Olympic Committee (HOC) President Minoas Kyriakou, as Greek President Karolos Papoulias and several ministers looked on.The flame’s first stop beyond Greece’s borders will be in China itself. (PHOTO: The Olympic flame burns brightly in a specially built altar at the Panathinaiko Stadium in downtown Athens on Sunday 30 March, moments before it was passed by torch to the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games organisers. ANA-MPA/Vassilis Psomas.)