Olympic flame to be lit by Greek sun before starting trip to UK

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The Olympic Flame will be lit by the sun’s rays on the morning of May 10 in Greece at the start of its journey to the London 2012 Games, Lord Coe has announced.

An hour-long lighting ceremony amid the historic ruins of the home of the ancient Games at the Temple of Hera in Olympia will signal the start of an eight-day relay around Greece, before the flame reaches British shores, starting in Cornwall before heading north.

After being lit, the flame is due to arrive at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens on May 17, where a London 2012 representative will be ready for the official handover.

Lord Coe, the London 2012 chairman, said: “It gives me great pleasure to confirm May 10 as the flame-lighting date, and Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose as the Olympic Flame’s arrival point into the UK.”

Once in Britain, the flame will be taken on a nationwide 70-day relay, from May 19 to July 27, calling in at several locations in Yorkshire throughout June including Leeds, York, Sheffield and Hull.

Its journey ends with the lighting of the Olympic cauldron at the opening ceremony on July 27.

The Greek leg of the torch relay is set to showcase the beauty and history of the Greek mainland and islands to the world, according to London 2012. The second torchbearer on the first day and the penultimate torchbearer on the last day of the Greek leg have been handpicked by London 2012, though organisers are still remaining tight-lipped on their names. London 2012 will only say they are inspirational people from the UK.

The Olympic Flame will then be the guest of honour on board a gold-liveried Airbus 319, flight number BA2012, which will take it from Athens to Britain.

British officials who have travelled to Athens for the handover, heralding the third time that London has staged the Games, will also be on board the specially-chartered British Airways flight. London previously hosted the Games in 1908 and 1948.

As the Olympic Flame is classified as symbolic, it is allowed to be carried on board an aircraft subject to special authorisation from the Civil Aviation Authority.

It will travel in a ceremonial lantern that is secured to a seat in a specially-designed cradle.