Famous flame brought to life at the site of the ancient Games
The official countdown to this year’s Rio de Janeiro Olympics began on Thursday when the flame for the Olympics was lit at the site of the ancient Games in Southern Greece.
An actor performing the role of high priestess lit the torch by using a concave mirror to catch the sunlight.
At Thursday’s ceremony, actress Katerina Lehou, who lit the torch, offered a ‘prayer’ to the old Greek god of light and music – Apollo.
The ritual was established 80 years ago for the Berlin Games, based on a ceremony in Ancient Olympia where games were held for more than 1,000 years.
A burning torch will be carried by a variety of runners on an international relay that will finish at the opening ceremony in Rio de Janeiro on 5th August.
The design of the torch is inspired by the geography of Rio de Janeiro and the Ancient Greeks considered fire to be a divine element.
Greek gymnast Eleftherios Petrounias is the first of roughly 12,000 athletes that will carry the torch.
According to CNN, the torch is due to arrive in Brazil on 27th April, where it will be taken through 83 cities and 500 towns, reaching about 90 per cent of the country’s population.
Preparations for the first Games in Brazil, which runs from 5th to 21st August, have been beset by problems and money flow issues for organizers, as the country is experiencing its worst recession in many years.