Olympic torch to leave Olympia in Greece for Brazil

21 April 2016
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Today, the torch for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro will be lit using the rays of the sun and a concave mirror in Ancient Olympia, the birthplace of the Games.

The ceremony will start at 12:00 am local time and will be led by actress Katerina Lehou, playing a high priestess, who will light the flame using the rays of the sun reflected off a concave mirror.

Brazil will be represented at Olympia by the president of the Rio 2016 organising committee, Carlos Nuzman, and sports minister Ricardo Leyser.

After giving thanks to the ancient Greek sun god Apollo, Lehou will light the Rio Olympic torch held by the first relay runner, artistic gymnast Lefteris Petrounias, Greece’s reigning world champion on the still rings.

Petrounias, who won gold on the rings at the World and European Championships last year, said he was shocked to be chosen to receive the torch.

“I was driving when I heard,” he told the Games’ official website. “The Bluetooth was on so I could hear in my car. And as a result of being so happy and surprised, I almost crashed my car.”

The torch will be handed over to the organisers of the Rio games on April 27 after a tour around Greece.

From there on it will embark on a 95-day tour of Brazil, visiting 83 cities, 26 state capitals and 500 towns.

Petrounias will pass the flame onto Giovane Gavio, a former Brazilian volleyball player, who won gold at Barcelona in 1992 and Athens 2004.

According to historic documents, the first ancient Games took place in 776 BC and continued for 12 centuries.

But it was not until 1936 that the modern Olympics began to use the Olympic flame which had been lit amidst the ruins of Olympia.

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