The ceremony of handing over the Olympic flame was held in weather more typical for London than for Athens at this time of year.
Despite the pouring rain, thousands of Athenians and visitors of Athens headed to the Panathenian Kallimarmaro stadium, where the first modern Olympic Games had taken place. The stands carved from Pentelic marble filled with colourful umbrellas, but the rain failed to dampen people’s ardour.
After the municipal philharmonic orchestra and the presidential guard, the British delegation entered the stadium. It was headed by Princess Anne, who has also taken part in the Olympic Games as a competitor in horse riding. The president of the Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games, “London 2012” Lord Sebastian Coe, the Minister of Sports and Olympics Hugh Robertson, Mayor of London Boris Johnson and the world famous football player David Beckham accompanied her. As expected, he excited the audience, but the heavy rain spoiled the pleasant surprise.
The Greek President Carlos Papoulias came into the stadium to the sounds of a military march and the ceremony began.
Two groups of children were carrying huge flags of Greece and Britain, and a children's choir sang the Olympic Anthem composed by Spiros Samaras and with lyrics by the poet Kostis Palamas. Then, the British national anthem followed, performed by even smaller children. Tenor Marios Frangoulis finally sang the Greek anthem without musical accompaniment.
The rain was gradually diminishing and when the first sprinter carrying the torch came into the stadium, it stopped completely. After making a full lap and handing it to several carriers, the torch reached the gold Olympic champions Pyros Dimas from Greece and Li Ning from China, who lit the altar.
The priests and priestesses came minutes later. The gentle movements of women alternated with the fighting gestures of men. The president of the Hellenic Olympic Committee Spyros Kapralos and the president of the British Olympic Committee Lord Sebastian Coe stressed that the flame connects the two countries in a particularly strong way. At the end, the main priestess forwarded the torch with the Olympic flame to the president of the Hellenic Olympic Committee and he handed it to Princess Anne.
She, in turn, lit the small torch with which the flame will be carried safely to the Old Albion, where after the eight-day tour throughout Greece, there will be another one.
After that, the British delegation left the stadium, above which there was a beautiful rainbow. Minutes after the ceremony, the sky above Kallimarmaro was full of balloons with the slogan "Greece, you can."
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