By Duncan Mackay in Durban

SpaceJuly 7 - Sochi 2014 wants to send the Olympic flame as part of a 120-day torch relay, they revealed here today.

Dmitry Chernyshenko, the President and chief executive of Sochi 2014,  and Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov told the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session that the relay will be the longest in history, covering 27,300 kilometres (16,963 miles) and seeing the torch carried by 14,000 runners.

Zhukov, who is also the President of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), added that it was the country's ambition "to send it above the earth's atmosphere".

He recalled that 50 years ago, Russia became the first country to send a man into space in 1961 when Yuri Gagarin completed an orbit of the earth.

"We are proud now to have the opportunity to be the first nation to send the Olympic torch into space," Zhukov said.

"Previously the cosmic peaks of sports records were always just a metaphor but now we have the real opportunity to send the symbol of peace, friendship, unity and excellence beyond earth's frontiers."

Organisers also want to carry the torch to the highest point in the country, the volcano at Mount Elbrus that is 5,642 metres high, as well as the world's deepest point at Lake Baikal, which has a 1,600m depth.

"The torch relay is to demonstrate the character of modern Russia, its great historical and cultural achievements and the achievements of the common people," said Zhukov.

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