Photos: Jamie McDonald, Getty Images
For an hour, the world averted its eyes from the financial and now the political crisis befallen on Greece and turned to Ancient Olympia.
There the flame for the Olympic Games in London this year was lit shortly after twelve o’clock. Traditionally, the ceremony takes place where the temple of Hera was. This year too, the main priestess uttered a prayer to the god of the sun, Apollo. When the sunrays found the right spot on the reflector, Ino Menegaki raised the flame torch, which will tour nearly all of Greece before being handed to the hosts of the Games.
The ceremony was attended by the president of the International Olympic Committee Jacques Rogge, the president of the organizing committee of this year's Games "London 2012" Lord Sebastian Coe, the chairman of the Hellenic Olympic Committee Spyros Kapralos, and members of organizations and sports federations.
The first carrier of the flame set off and the first route was through the wooded area, named after the founder of the modern Olympic Games Pierre de Coubertin.
After the tour in the Peloponnese, which will follow the route Pyrgos - Amaliada, Ancient Illida, Korivos, Gastouni, Lehena and Corinth, the Olympic Flame will arrive in Piraeus.
It will be transported to Crete by ship tomorrow, where it will tour Kissamos, Chania, Rethymno, Knossos, Agios Nikolaos, Malia, Hersonissos and Heraklion. From there, the torch will arrive at the island of Kastelorizo by plane. Its tour there is not just symbolic because Turkey has been laying claims to the maritime space where Kastelorizo lies. Initially, it was not included in the route of the Olympic flame and this gave rise to polemics in the public domain, which was reinforced by the election campaign. After violent debates, the Greek Olympic Committee recognised the omission and included Kastelorizo in the route. The torch will return to Athens late on Friday.
It will go through Piraeus and Patras on Saturday and over the bridge between Rio and Antirio, it will reach continental Greece. The route to Ioannina is as follows: Amfilohia - Vonitza - Preveza - Parga - Igoumenitsa - Ioannina.
On 13 May, it will pass through Kozani - Veria -Thessaloniki and will arrive in Kavala. On the fifth day, it will tour Komotini - Kipi, where the border checkpoint in Turkey is - Feres - Alexandroupolis - Xanthi and Drama.
On 15 May, the Olympic flame will travel through Alistrati - Serres - Katerini - Larissa - Volos - Lamia. A day later, it will return to Athens, having previously passed through Halkida, the Athens suburb of Peristeri and Piraeus. Then, it will spend the night at the Acropolis.
The Olympic flame will go three thousand kilometres in Greece, will pass through 43 cities and villages and five hundred runners will participate in the race. All tour costs will be covered by sponsorships and will not cost a dime to the state budget.
On 17 May, the flame will tour Athens, where there will be welcoming ceremonies at the Acropolis Museum and Zappeion Hall. It will be handed to the British delegation at a special ceremony at the Panathinaiko Stadium where the first modern Olympic Games were held. GRReporter will be there to cover the event for its readers.