Olympic flame handed over to organizers
Updated: 2013-10-06 09:21
ATHENS - The Olympic Flame which burns for the forthcoming Sochi 2014 XXII Winter Olympics was handed over to the Russian organizers in a touching ceremony held at Panathenaic Stadium in Athens on Saturday.
The Sacred Light's trip across Greece during a torch relay from Olympia, the birthplace of the Olympic Games where it was ignited last Sunday, ended at the marble venue of the first modern Olympics.
Under the warm applause of Greek President Karolos Papoulias and other Greek and foreign dignitaries, children and veteran athletes, Hellenic Olympic Committee President Spyros Capralos passed the torch with the Olympic Flame to Russian Deputy Prime Minister and head of the Russian delegation Dmitry Kozak.
"Dear friends from Russia, time has come for you to receive this symbol that reunites all nations and conveys the message of peace and friendship all over the world... I wish you, on behalf of all Greeks, our very best for a most successful organization of the Olympic Games, next February in Sochi," Capralos said addressing the event.
"I do believe that the Olympic Games in Sochi will not only become a part of history of the Olympic Games, but will also make sufficient contribution to the development of trust, friendship and respect between people of various cultures, traditions, countries and continents," Kozak said on behalf of the Russian hosts of the February 7-28 Olympic Games.
He noted that it is nearly three decades since Russia hosted the Games. For the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics Russians have scheduled the biggest relay in terms of time and distance in the history of the Games.
The symbol of Olympism which travelled 2,000 kilometers across Greece and was greeted with enthusiasm by thousands over the past week, will cover 65,000 kilometers over the next 123 days before reaching the Olympic Stadium of Sochi.
On Saturday the Flame reached the Panathenaic Stadium at the hands of Greek champion in figure skating Panayiotis Markouizos. He was the last torchbearer on Greek soil who was granted the honor to light the cauldron inside the stadium.
From the altar actress Ino Menegaki in the role of an ancient Greek High Priestess lit the torch which was then passed over to the Russian delegation.
It was one of the highlights in a traditional ceremony which included a choreography inspired this year by the Caryatids, the statues of female figures serving as pillars on one of the temples on Acropolis hill.
Honoring the Russian organizers the orchestra and the choir of Greece's National Opera performed abstracts of Russian composer Alexander Borodin's opera "Prince Igor," before all spectators wished best success to the Sochi Games.