The Olympic flame will be lit in a ceremony in Olympia, Greece, on Thursday ahead of the start of the torch relay and the London 2012 Games.
The flame is kindled by a 'high priestess' who captures the morning sun's rays in a parabolic mirror.The flame flies to Britain on 18 May for a 70-day relay around the UK.
Locog Chairman Lord Coe, International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge and Hellenic Olympic Committee president Spyros Capralos will be in Olympia for the moment marking the countdown to London 2012. The lighting ceremony takes place in front of the ruins of the Temple of Hera from 11:30 local time (09:30BST)
The flame - an Olympic symbol meant to represent purity because it comes from the sun - is then placed in an urn and taken to the stadium where the ancient Olympic Games were staged. There, it will light the London 2012 torch of Liverpool-born Greek world champion 10km swimmer Spyros Gianniotis, who will carry it on the first leg of the relay around Greece.
He will pass it on to Alex Loukos, 19, the first British torchbearer, a boxer and, in 2005, one of a delegation of east London schoolchildren who travelled to Singapore as part of London's final bid for the Games.
The torch is due to travel 2,900kms (1,800 miles) through the country, carried by 500 torchbearers, on a route circling the country and travelling out to Crete. The Greek section of the 2012 torch relay ends at the Panathenaic Stadium, Athens, on Thursday 17 May, where the flame is handed over to London Olympic Games organisers.
The stadium hosted the first modern Olympic Games in 1896.
Carried by 8,000 torchbearers, the Barber Osgerby-designed torch will cover 8,000 miles across all of the country's nations and regions, to reach the Olympic Stadium in Stratford on 27 July to light the cauldron at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games. For the ancient Greeks, fire was a divine element believed to have been stolen from the Gods.
A flame was first lit at the modern Olympics at the Amsterdam 1928 summer games, but it was not until Berlin 1936 that a torch relay route was set out from Greece to Germany.
Source: BBC News
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