Lighting of Olympic Torch Kicks Off Countdown to Rio

The Olympic flame was kindled Thursday at the birthplace of the ancient games in Greece, heralding the start of a 15-week journey leading to the Aug. 5 opening ceremony in Rio de Janeiro.

IOC and Rio organizing committee leaders attended the flame-lighting at Ancient Olympia, where antiquity's greatest sporting event was held for over 1,000 years.

They voiced confidence that Brazil will overcome its political and economic problems to stage successful games, the first in South America.

After being lit by an actress playing the role of a pagan high priestess the torch will be delivered to the first torchbearer, Greek world gymnastics champion Eleftherios Petrounias.

It will then traverse Greece for six days, until the April 27 handover to Brazilian officials in Athens. After a brief stopover in Switzerland, the flame will start its travels through Brazil on May 3.

About 12,000 torch bearers—including a migrant in Greece—will carry the flame through Greece and later through Brazil, where the final torch bearer will light the Olympic cauldron.

Once in Brazil, the flame will pass through 329 towns and cities, including all of Brazil's 26 state capitals, ending at Maracana Stadium, where the Olympic Games will begin.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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