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Greece Lights 2012 Olympic Torch For Journey To London

Olympic Torch Lit At Games' Greek Birthplace
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WATCH: An actress dressed as an ancient Greek priestess ignited the torch and gave thanks to the ancient sun god Apollo. (AP video)

The official torch for the 2012 London Olympic Games has been lit at the ancient Greek site of Olympia, where the first Olympics were held 2,800 years ago.

The May 10 ceremony was attended by International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge and London Games organizing head and Olympic gold medalist runner Sebastian Coe.

The event marks the start of a 2,900-kilometer journey around Greece before being handed over to Britain at a ceremony on May 17 in Athens' Panathenian Stadium, where the first modern Games were held in 1896.

It will then undergo a 70-day, 12,800-kilometer odyssey through Britain, passing through more than 1,000 towns and villages before reaching London for the games' opening July 27.

In his remarks, Rogge underscored the symbolism of the event.

"We have come to the ancestral home of the Olympic movement to light the flame that will soon cast its glow over the entire world," Rogge said. "The flame that we kindle here from the rays of the sun is a powerful symbol of the tradition and values that underlie our movement. It is a beacon for the Olympic values of friendship, excellence, and respect. It is a symbol of fellowship and peace."

For his part, Coe pledged to honor the traditions of the Olympic flame and vowed that London will host an Olympics that "can inspire a generation."

An actress dressed as an ancient Greek priestess used a mirror to focus sunlight and ignite the torch after giving thanks to Apollo, "the king of the sun and the idea of light."

The Greek torch-lighting ceremony was begun for the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games. London now becomes the first city to receive the flame twice, the first time for the 1948 Olympics.

Some 7,300 people -- including a wounded Afghanistan war veteran and a 100-year-old woman -- will participate in the torch relay across Britain.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AFP, and AP