Sochi - The Olympic Torch Relay Begins
The torch was lit on Sunday, kindled by the sun’s rays, in the ancient Greek city of Olympia in a ceremony that was full of mystery and tradition. During a theatrical performance in the ancient Temple of Hera the priestess asked the Greek God Apollo to send down the sun’s rays to light the Olympic flame in a symbolic re-enactment of the God’s approval to host the Games. The absence of any source of artificial fire is one of the main conditions of the ceremony and in strict tradition the Torch is always lit using the sun’s rays, reflected on a large parabolic mirror.
The honour of being the first torchbearer went to Greece’s 18-year old alpine skier Ioannis Antoniou and once he finishes his stretch, he will pass it to the first Russian runner, the ice hockey star Aleksandr Ovechkin. In Greece alone, 250 torchbearers will carry the flame 2,000km through 33 towns and 23 regions until it arrives at the old Olympic stadium in Athens, the site of the first modern Games in 1896. Here the Russian delegation of 2014 will receive the torch and the Russian route will begin. This is expected to last 123 days and start on October 6 in the capital of Moscow.
It’s not only the length of this marathon that’s causing a stir. The Sochi committee has confirmed that the torch will be the first in history to travel in space, approximately 400km to the International Space Station on board the Soyuz-11M manned spaceship. “Nobody has done this before. The space walk by the two Russsian cosmonauts with the Sochi 2014 Olympic torch will be a historic moment in the history of the Olympics” said Dmitry Chernyshenko, Head of the organizing committee.
With that in mind, it’s set to be a momentous journey, one that will end on 7 February as runners deliver it to Sochi for the beginning of the Winter Games and an opening that will be watched by a Worldwide television audience of millions.