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25 Mar 2004
IOC News

The flame for the Athens Games will be lit in Olympia today

Today the official lighting ceremony of the Olympic flame for the Athens Games will take place in Olympia. The ceremony will begin at 12-noon local time in the Temple of Hera of Ancient Olympia, and the flame will be lit in accordance with the ancient ritual, using the sun’s rays captured with the aid of a concave mirror.

High priestess surrounded by a group of vestal virgins
A 32-year-old actress, Thalia Prokopiou, will, for the third time in her career, play the role of the high priestess surrounded by a group of vestal virgins. Among the personalities present will be the President of the Greek Republic, Costis Stephanopoulos, the President of the International Olympic Committee, Jacques Rogge, and the President of the Games Organising Committee (ATHOC), Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki.

The heart of Pierre de Coubertin
Once lit, the torch will be handed to Greek javelin thrower Constantin Gatsioudis, silver medallist at the World Championships in Seville in 1999, who will run to the place where the heart of Frenchman Pierre de Coubertin, the father of the modern Games, lies just a few hundred metres from the site.

In Athens on 31 March
At the end of a 365km route, the flame will reach Athens on 31 March to be placed in the marble stadium by Greek sprinter Katerina Thanou, 29, silver medallist in the 100m at the Sydney Games.

11,000 torchbearers
It will leave again on 4 June for Sydney, the first stage of a long journey during which it will be carried by more than 11,000 torchbearers, of whom 6,500 will be in Greece, each running between 300 and 500 metres.

On all five continents for the first time
The torch relay, established at the Berlin Games in 1936, will, for the first time, travel across all five continents, visiting Africa (Cairo and Cape Town) and South America (Rio de Janeiro).

Arrival at the Athens Olympic Stadium on 13 August 2004
After its tour of the world, the flame, which will be carried between 10 and 12 hours per day on average, will, on 9 July, embark on a journey through 600 cities and towns across Greece to arrive at the Athens Olympic Stadium on 13 August.

Learn more on the Torch Relay - Official website of Athens 2004
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