The ceremony, which was held in the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens – home of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896 – marked the end of a seven-day relay around Greece, which followed the official lighting ceremony in Ancient Olympia on 29 September.
The ceremony saw Greek figure skater Panagiotis Markouizos carry the flame into the stadium before lighting the Torch Cauldron. The flame was then passed by the President of the Hellenic Olympic Committee, Spyros Capralos, to Dmitry Kozak, the Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, who was joined bythe President of the Sochi 2014 Organising Committee, Dmitry Chernyshenko, and Russia’s six-time Olympic speed skating champion Lidiya Skoblikova.
The flame will now travel to Moscow for the start of the Russian leg of the Olympic Torch Relay, which will end at the Opening Ceremony of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi on 7 February. It will travel to Moscow on a specially chartered flight, accompanied by Skoblikova, before embarking on the longest Olympic Torch Relay in winter Games history.
"We are proud to receive the Olympic flame, an important symbol of the Olympic Games,” said Chernyshenko. “The countdown to the Games starts here! During this relay, the flame will visit over 3,000 towns and cities across Russia. We want to ensure that all residents of Russia will feel involved in the Olympic celebrations and the unifying power of the flame."
Over the course of 123 days, the Olympic flame will cover more than 65,000 kilometres as it visits every region of Russia, travelling by car, train, plane, Russian troika and even reindeer sleigh. It will be carried by more than 14,000 Torchbearers as it visits important historic, cultural and picturesque areas of Russia, including Yasnaya Polyana, the Avachinskiy Volcanoes and the Kizhi Museum Reserve.
The route has been designed to ensure that around 90% of Russia's population will be within an hour of the Relay at some stage, allowing approximately 130 million residents to participate in the event. More than 30,000 volunteers are also expected to participate in the Relay.
Find out more about the Sochi 2014 Olympic Torch Relay Presenting Partners at http://torchrelay.sochi2014.com/en/partners
More information on the Sochi 2014 Olympic Torch Relay can be found at http://torchrelay.sochi2014.com/en/