HRH the Princess Royal receives Olympic Flame at Athens Ceremony
Athens, Greece – In the final part of the Greek leg of the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay, the Olympic Flame was handed over to the London 2012 delegation, headed by President of the British Olympic Association and LOCOG Board Member, HRH the Princess Royal, in a ceremony at the Panathenaic Stadium. The handover of the Olympic Flame concluded the 3000km, 8-day relay route around Greece.
Other highlights of the Handover Ceremony included the Olympic anthem sung by a local children, five Torchbearers carrying the Olympic Flame around the stadium, before lighting the ceremonial cauldron, a choreographed dance performance, and the five young UK representatives each being handed an olive branch by young people from Greece.
Images from the event can be downloaded here from 6.30pm BST (8.30pm Greek local time) onwards. Spyros Capralos, President of the Hellenic Olympic Committee, said: ‘The Handover of the Olympic Flame is a key milestone for each Olympic Games as the Torch Relay rallies the world’s athletes to make their final preparations. After a fantastic eight day Torch Relay around Greece we wish London and the whole of the UK well for a successful 70 day Torch Relay and Olympic Games.’
Sebastian Coe, Chair of LOCOG, said: ‘Like the Olympic Games, the Flame belongs to the world, and the arrival of the Flame in the host nation is a clarion call to the athletes and young people in more than 200 nations and territories preparing to gather for the London 2012 Games.
‘The Olympic Flame will visit every nation and region, shining a light on the people, places, communities and cultures of the United Kingdom. We have found the very best in our Torchbearers, who like Olympic athletes, will inspire a generation.’ Led by HRH the Princess Royal carrying the Olympic Flame in a lantern, Chair of LOCOG Sebastian Coe, Minister for Sport and the Olympics Hugh Robertson, Mayor Boris Johnson, London 2012 ambassador David Beckham and the five UK youth representatives then departed the stadium for a reception at the British Ambassador’s residence, where the Olympic Flame will remain overnight, before the flight to the UK.
Dr David Landsman OBE, HM Ambassador, Athens said: ‘This is a once-in-a-lifetime moment, the Olympic Flame passes through Athens on its way to London. The handover to HRH the Princess Royal epitomises the link in both sport and values between the ancient Greek Olympic tradition and the modern Olympic Games we are excitedly looking forward to hosting.’
The Olympic Flame will be leaving Athens on Friday 18 May to arrive into the UK at RNAS Culdrose, near Helston, Cornwall at approximately 7.30pm BST.
Minister for Sport and the Olympics, Hugh Robertson, said: ‘The Olympic Flame will travel far and wide across the country and celebrate many local heroes, picked to be Torchbearers, who make such a positive contribution in their communities. We stand ready to welcome the world this summer and showcase the very best of Britain.’
On the morning of 19 May the Olympic Flame will then travel from RNAS Culdrose to Land’s End ready for the start of the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay, presented by Coca-Cola, Lloyds TSB and Samsung. The Olympic Flame will travel 8,000 miles across the UK to within 10 miles of 95% of the population. 8,000 Torchbearers will carry the Olympic Flame for approximately 300 metres each, passing the Olympic Flame from torch to torch until it reaches the Olympic Stadium on the eve of 27 July.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson, said: ‘Receiving the Olympic Flame is a great honour. Its arrival signals the beginning of a fantastic summer for London when the world will focus on this great city to celebrate the greatest sporting extravaganza on the planet.
‘It is also the starting gun for London to harness the extraordinary opportunity the Games offer to build on the impressive legacy of new jobs and economic growth we are already delivering across the capital.’