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In time honoured tradition, on 21 April the Olympic flame of the Olympic Games Rio 2016 was lit, with the aid of a parabolic mirror, by an actress playing the role of the high priestess of the Temple of Hera in Ancient Olympia.
The flame was then taken on a short tour of Greece including through the Eleonas refugee camp, prior to a ceremony at Panathinaiko Stadium in Athens (the setting for the first Games of the modern era in 1896) on 27 April. After leaving Greece, the flame made a stopover in Switzerland, where it went on display at the Olympic Museum, before being flown on to Brazil.
On 3 May, the Brazilian capital of Brasilia will provide the venue for the start of a 95-day journey on which the Olympic flame will travel 20,000 kilometres by road and 10,000 miles by air, passing through the hands of around 12,000 relay runners as they make their way through every state in the largest country in South America. It will pass through over 300 towns, cities and villages on a route close to which live 90 percent of Brazilians, giving them the opportunity to celebrate this unique event.
The torchbearers will wear a white kit with yellow and green stripes, with white symbolising peace and unity between different cultures, yellow the Olympic flame and green the Brazilian flag. The torches being used for the Rio 2016 relay comprise different-coloured segments that open up when they “kiss” each other, i.e. when the flame is passed from one torch to another.
IOC / Ian Jones
A memorable celebration
“In taking the Olympic flame right across the country, we will be fulfilling our promise to give millions of people the chance to take part in a celebration that we will never forget,” commented Carlos Arthur Nuzman, President of the Organising Committee of the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games. “We want to see the pride of the people in the streets. We want to showcase our cultural diversity and the beauty of our country. We want the whole world to see the very essence of our country.”
After leaving Brasilia, the torch will make its way to the central state of Goiás, passing through Pirenópolis, a historic city surrounded by waterfalls, and Caldas Novas, known for its extensive hot springs. Venturing next into Minas Gerais, it will take a winding route in the direction of the Atlantic coast via the state capital of Belo Horizonte.
In venturing to this southeastern region of the country, the flame will visit cities steeped in history as well as breathtakingly beautiful landscapes, before hitting the coast and taking a turn north east through the states of Rio de Janeiro, Espirito Santo, Bahia (with its gorgeous capital Salvador) Pernambuco (and the city of Recife), Sergipe, Alagoas, Paraíba, Rio Grande do Norte, home to the country’s most beautiful beaches and premier tourist resorts, Ceara, Piauí, Tocantins, Maranhão, and Pará. Continuing on its way north, it will arrive in Macapa, in the state of Amapa, situated at the mouth of the Amazon and right on the equator.
After the state of Roraima, the flame will then head west towards the Amazon rainforest and the state of Amazonas from which it takes its name, whose capital Manaus is famed for its 19th century theatre, built, at the time, in the middle of the jungle. From there the relay will snake off to the south east, through Acre, Rondônia, Mato Grosso, and Mato Grosso do Sul, calling in for the first time to the state of Sao Paulo, and then taking in the majestic Iguazu Falls in Paraná before moving on to Santa Catarina and the country’s southernmost region, Rio Grande do Sul (which borders Argentina and Uruguay), and its capital Porto Alegre.
On 7-8 July the relay will turn back in the direction of Rio de Janeiro, and Curitiba, before passing through Sao Paulo on 27 July. After a tour of the mountains, it will make the trip down to the state of Rio and embark on the final stage of its journey, a nine-day tour that will culminate at the Opening Ceremony at the Maracaña on the evening of 5 August, when the Olympic cauldron will be lit!