London 2012: Torch lit in Greece

The London 2012 Olympic Torch was lit today using a mirror and the sun’s rays in a ceremony in Greece.

Held aloft by Greek actress Ino Menegaki, who was playing a high priestess in the opening ceremony, the flame was transferred to the first torchbearer and will travel to Britain on Friday May 18, where a 70-day relay around the UK will commence.

By the time the torch reaches its final destination in the Olympic Stadium on July 27, 2012, it will have covered 8,000 miles and have been carried by 8,000 different torch bearers, many of whom were nominated by their families and friends for their contributions to their various communities.

The Greek ceremony took place in the Temple of Hera ruins, by the ancient Olympic Games stadium where the flame was initially lit before being transferred to a Greek torch which lit the British torch. The British torch was then carried by Liverpool-born Greek world champion 10km swimmer Spyros Gianniotis, the first athlete to carry the torch in its week-long journey around Greece.

BBC correspondent James Pearce reported that the flame briefly went out before the transfer could take place, a worrying moment for those who are superstitious as the flame is meant to symbolise strength and purity.

In the myths of ancient Greece, fire was believed to be a divine element, stolen from the Gods. It seems strangely fitting that the flame should burn out. With millions spent on the Games in the midst of a global recession and a worldwide lack of perspective regarding the importance of sports, perhaps the Gods really are angry at the expense and hero worship we bestow on our athletes?

Or perhaps there was a coincidental gust of wind.

Regardless, the torch will make its way to the UK on May 18, proudly carried by members of the public entrusted with ensuring its eventual arrival in London.

Let the games begin!