Flame for 2008 Beijing Olympic Games is lit

Updated: 2008-03-24 18:47

Greek actress Maria Nafpliotou, playing the role of the High Priestess, holds the torch aloft at the Olympic Flame-lighting Ceremony for the Beijing Olympic Games in Olympia, Greece March 24, 2008. [Xinhua]

The torch for the 2008 Olympic Games has been lit successfully in ancient Olympia, Greece. The torch will begin a 130-day, 137,000km journey starting Monday. That will take it from the site of Olympia to Beijing, where the Summer Games is scheduled for August.

 Rogge speech Flame lit Dance at ceremony 

While much of the trip will be aboard a chartered jet, tens of thousands of torch-bearers, including 19,400 in China, will carry the flame on foot through 23 cities on five continents and then throughout China, where tens of millions of ordinary people have been aspiring to see the arrival of the torch.

Televised live by China's Central Television Station and major Chinese websites, the majority of office workers stayed before big or small screens, and felt heartedly sacred and joyful to witness the flame, lit by the sun's rays on a concave steel mirror at the ruins of the Temple of Hera in Olympia.

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"Today will lead to the opening of the first ever Olympic Games in China, where one-fifth of the world's population is longing for them," said Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee, at the ceremony.

"The messengers will be citizens, young or old, able or disabled, athletes and members of the Olympic Movement, who are all eager to promote what each one of us can contribute to a better world," he said.

The Greek actress Maria Nafpliotou, playing the role of the High Priestess, lit the first torch. It was carried the first mile by Alexandros Nikolaidis, a Greek athlete who won a silver medal in taekwondo at the 2004 Olympics in Greek capital Athens.

Luo Xuejuan, China's Olympic swimming gold medalist was the second bearer, taking the flame from Nikolaidis. Another 603 bearers are scheduled to run the flame through Greece, culminating in Athens on March 30, where the torch will be handed over to China for a chartered flight to Beijing.

After a gala party to greet its arrival in Beijing, the flame will move around the world through April. At the beginning of May, it begins a three-month trek through more than 100 Chinese cities.

AlexandrosNikolaidis Luo Xuejuan Deng Yaping Luo Linquan
 Wang Lihong  Liu Hongliang    

The flame is set to arrive in Beijing on August 6, where it will be paraded around the city until entering the National Stadium for the Olympics opening ceremony on August 8.

In addition to visiting cities in Greece and China, relay runners plan to carry the torch to the following cities, listed in the order in which the torch is scheduled to visit: Almaty, Kazakhstan; Istanbul, Turkey; St. Petersburg, Russia; London, England; Paris, France; San Francisco, California, USA; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; Muscat, Oman; Islamabad, Pakistan; New Delhi, India; Bangkok, Thailand; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Jakarta, Indonesia; Canberra, Australia; Nagano, Japan; Seoul, South Korea; Pyongyang, DPRK; Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

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