|The high priestess, played
by Greek actress Theodora Siarkou, prays to God Apollo to send the
Sun's rays to ignite the Olympic flame during a ceremony in front of
the Temple of Hera in Ancient Olympia November 27, 2005.
High Priestess Theodora Siarkou here on Sunday lighted the Olympic
torch with a backup flame in
an official lighting ceremony for the Turin 2006 Winter Olympic Games.
Because of the overnight heavy rain and heavy clouds hovering the
Ancient Olympia -- the birthplace of the Olympics, the backup flame, which
were kindled with a concave steel mirror in a rehearsal on Saturday, were
used to light the Olympic Flame.
Bad weather affected the ceremony for the Sydney 2000 Summer Games, and
the past two Winter Olympics -- at Salt Lake City in 2002, and Nagano in
After the lighting ceremony, Siarkou and 17 female priestesses --all wearing pleated white
dresses and sandals -- carried the flame in a copy of an ancient Greek pot
to a cypress-ringed clearing in front of the cemetery of Pierre de
Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympics.
Following a short dancing ceremony in front of a marble pillar under
which the French baron's heart is buried, Siarkou lit the official torch
for the 20th Winter Games, in the presence of Turinorganizing chief
Valentino Castellani and Greek Olympic Committee President Minos Kyriakou.
The first torch bearer 19-year-old Costas Filippidis, right hand with
the torch and left hand with the olive branch taken fromthe olive tree in
front of the Hera temple given by Siarkou, started the official torch
relay on Greek territory.
The torch relay in Greece will travel 69 municipalities and 18
prefectures, covering 2006 kilometers with 534 torchbearers in 10-day
period before it leaves for Italy.
The Turin 2006 Winter Olympic Games is scheduled for Feb. 10-26next