Olympic torch is lit in preparation for journey to Sydney

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(2 Jun 2004)

1. Various of Olympic torch
2. Olympic symbol
3. Lighting of the torch
4. Various Olympic vehicle
5 SOUNDBITE: (English) Marton Simitsek, 2004 Organising Committee executive:
“As a candidate city, we have promised to the Olympic community that we are going to reunite the wider Olympic family by sending our torch to visit all the cities who have hosted the games until today and of course go to the five continents. Therefore we start this historic trip today and we believe that really it is going to serve its purpose and give the ideology of the Olympic games to all the world.”
6. Simitsek lighting torch
7. Simitsek walks with torch and enters vehicle
8. Wide shot of location where torch was lit
9. Olympic vehicles depart location


The Olympic flame left the Greek capital Athens on Wednesday night on a jumbo jet dubbed “Zeus” on the first leg of an unprecedented six-continent visit to 26 countries before it returns home for the Summer Games.

The flame, which has burned outside Athens’ century-old Panathenean Stadium for the past two months, will first go to Sydney – host of the 2000 Olympics – and will stop in Los Angeles, St. Louis, Atlanta and New York between June 16 and 19.

Chief 2004 organiser Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki walked the torch down a red carpet, past the flags of the 26 nations, and then carried it up to the plane.

Each of the 26 countries, except the United States, was represented by a diplomat at the ceremony. Olympic authorities had expected US Ambassador Thomas Miller to attend.

The 35-day journey, covering more than 46,800 miles, will bring the Olympic flame to South America and Africa for the first time.

The first runner to carry the torch outside Greece will be reigning 400-metre champion Cathy Freeman, an Australian who lit the Olympic flame at the Sydney opening ceremony.

Other former Olympic gold medallists such as Magic Johnson and Carl Lewis, along with “Friends” star Jennifer Aniston, will help carry the torch on its world tour.

The flame was surrounded by busloads of tourists on its last day at the Panathenean Stadium, which hosted the 1896 Olympics – the first modern games. This summer’s marathon will end at the stadium in downtown Athens.

As workers hosed down the marble steps of the stadium, Greeks and non-Greeks came to bid farewell to the flame for the next five weeks.

The torch was lit on March 25 at ancient Olympia, birthplace of the games 3,000 years ago. It will return to Greece on July 9.

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