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After the flame-lighting ceremony in Olympia and its relay across Greece, the flame arrived in Athens on 6 April. To mark the Centennial of the Games, a special celebration was organised in the Panathenaic Stadium. Representatives of the 17 cities that had hosted the Summer Games before Atlanta were present. Each of them received a safety lamp, whose flame was lit from a main torch. During the next 21 days, these flames were celebrated in each of the former host cities, while the main flame burned in Athens. These flames were extinguished when the main flame left Athens to fly to Los Angeles.
On 27 April, the flame arrived in Los Angeles. The relay on American soil began at the Memorial Coliseum, the Stadium that hosted the Los Angeles Games in 1932 and 1984. The first torchbearer was Olympian Rafer Johnson, the last torchbearer of the 1984 Games. The relay notably passed through St Louis, host city of the Olympic Games in 1904.
On 19 July, the flame reached the city of Atlanta. In order to honour the origins of the modern Olympic Games, Evander Holyfield, originally from Atlanta, shared the torch with Greek athlete Voula Patoulidou for part of the leg in the Stadium during the Opening Ceremony. Swimmer Janet Evans took over the relay, doing a lap of the track before heading for a long ramp located at the top of the extreme north of the Stadium. She passed the torch to Muhammad Ali, who had the honour of lighting the cauldron.