Organisers of the London Olympic Games will receive the Olympic flame today at a ceremony in Athens, before bringing it home to Britain
A British delegation including London 2012 chief Lord Coe, British Olympic Association President the Princess Royal, Olympics Minister Hugh Robertson, London Mayor Boris Johnson and London 2012 ambassador David Beckham will receive the Olympic flame at a the Panathenaic Stadium. Since it was lit in the site of the ancient games in Olympia on 10 May the flame has been carried in a week-long relay across Greece.
The flame will be brought to the UK by the British delegation by British Airways flight 2012, a gold plane named Firefly, on Friday evening, where there will be a welcoming ceremony at naval base RNAS Culdrose. It will then be carried 8,000 miles (12,875km) by 8,000 bearers in a 70-day relay ending at the Olympic Park.
The relay begins at Land’s End on Saturday when triple Olympic sailing champion Ben Ainslie will be the first to carry the torch on British soil. It will go on to cover every region in the UK – past some of the country’s most iconic sites.
The Olympic Flame will come within 10 miles of 95 per cent of people in the UK, Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey, visiting places big and small, from country villages to big cities. It will even be taken on a chair lift over the Needles on the Isle of Wight, abseiled down the Dock Tower at Grimsby and whizzed off the Tyne Bridge in Newcastle Gateshead on a zip wire.
As with the Vancouver Winter Olympics in Canada, it is hoped that the torch relay will stoke excitement for the Games. It will provide a tangible and stirring countdown until finally the torch will be used to light the cauldron in Stratford’s Olympic Stadium at the opening ceremony of the Games on 27 July.