Flame for Vancouver 2010 lit in Greece
October 22 - The Torch Relay for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics got underway today from ancient Olympia in Greece, with the sun's rays igniting the silver torch during a break in the clouds.
The ceremony kicked off an eight-day relay through Greece before the torch is handed over to Games Canadian organisers.
About 700 people carry the flame through villages and towns until it reaches Athens.
The flame is due to arrive in Canada on October 30 for the biggest-ever relay, covering 28,000 miles over 106 days and ending in Vancouver on February 12, the opening day of the 2010 Winter Games.
John Furlong, the chief executive of Vancouver 2010, said: "The flame has a unique power to unite us as countries and as people.
"Today we create a bridge between ancient Olympia and a young Canada.
"We are joined together by common ideals and an eagerness to make the world a better place through fair play, respect and a commitment to peace and the power of sport."
Greek actress Maria Nafpliotou, playing the role of a high priestess, said a prayer to Apollo and released a white dove after titling a torch into a parabolic mirror aimed at the sun.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge was present, as hundreds of spectators sprawled on the sloped, grassy hills on the site of the ancient Greek stadium that hosted the Ancient Games.
He said: "Above all it is a message of peace sent throughout the world."
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell and federal Sports Minister Gary Lunn were among those also in attendance at the ceremony.
The Canadian Government is contributing C$12.5 million to the relay, and there are two corporate sponsors Coca-Cola and RBC.