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Olympic Torch Lit as Countdown to Rio Games Begins

Posted on in 2016 Summer Olympics - Security Update title_rule

The flame for the Summer Olympic Games, which will be hosted by Brazil, has been lit in southern Greece.

During Thursday’s ceremony, actor Katerina Lehou performed the role of high priestess lit the torch by using the sun’s rays, offering a mock prayer to Apollo, the old Greek god of light and music. She lit the torch within a few seconds by using a concave mirror to catch the sunlight. She then delivered the flame to Greek world gymnastics champion Eleftherios Petrounias, the first runner in the torch relay. The ritual, which was established eighty years ago for the Berlin Games, is based on a ceremony in Ancient Olympia where games were held for more than 1,000 years.

The torch will be taken to various runners on an international relay that will culminate at the opening ceremony in Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on 5 August. The chief organizer of the Games, Carlos Nuzman, has promised to “delivery history,” stating that the Olympics would unit Brazil, which is beset by political and economic crises. Brazil President Dilma Rousseff was forced to cancel her trip to ancient Olympia because of the impeachment threat that she faces.

According to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), before the flame arrives in South America, it will begin a six-day relay across Greece, passing through the town of Marathon, which gave its name to the long distance race, as well as a camp for refugees and migrants in Athens. The flame is due to arrive in Brazil on 3 May for a 100-day relay across the country. It will travel through 500 cities and villages in every Brazilian state and will be carried by about 12,000 torch bearers.

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