The 2012 Olympic flame has been lit in the Temple of Hera ruins in Olympia, Greece near the ancient Olympic Games Stadium. The flame was lit with a parabolic mirror by actress Ino Menegaki who was playing the role of a high priestess catching the rays from the sun. The flame temporarily went out and then lit again. The flame was then placed in an urn and taken to the Olympic Games Stadium. The flame lit a Greek torch which then lit the London 2012 Olympic torch.
Lord Coe said, “"Today is the rallying call to the athletes - the best athletes of their generation - to come to London. That in itself is a big moment because it's the biggest sporting event in the calendar. We are reminded this morning of sport's enduring and universal appeal, and the timeless Olympic values that transcend history and geography; values which, I believe, in these challenging times are more relevant than at any time before and particularly to young people the world over. In 1948, shortly after the Second World War, my predecessor stood where I am today and made the first tentative steps in turning the world from war to sport. We find ourselves in challenging times again and turn to sport once more to connect the world in a global celebration of achievement and inspiration."
The torch will travel 1800 miles through Greece. It will be carried by 500 torchbearers. On Friday, May 18, the flame will fly to Britain for a 70-day relay around the UK. The Olympic flame represents purity because it comes directly from the sun. The torch relay will begin at Land’s End and then land of British soil. 8000 torchbearers will take the Barber Osgerby-designed torch and will travel over 8000 miles. The torch is scheduled to arrive at the Olympic Stadium in Stratford on July 27, where it will light the cauldron to kick off the Olympic Games. London also hosted the games in 1908 and 1928. According to the website for the 2012 games, “The Olympic Flame will come within 10 miles of 95% of people in the UK, Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey. It will enable local communities to shine a light on the best their area has to offer – including celebrations of local culture, breathtaking landscapes and dynamic urban areas.”
The Olympic Flame is a symbol commemorating the theft of fire from the Greek god Zeus by Prometheus. The flame was reintroduced in the 1928 summer games. The torch relay began in the 1936 Berlin games.