CULTURE

Next stop Athens, and then the world

The Olympic Flame came to Athens before taking the next step in its long journey over five continents. In the presence of the Greek president, members of the government, the military leadership and the prime minister’s wife Natassa Karamanli, dressed all in white, Olympic medalist Katerina Thanou took up the torch which had arrived by helicopter from Aegina, and entered the Panethenaic Stadium just as the Attic dusk lent the Pendelic marble of the stadium and the surrounding hills of Agra and Ardittos its renowned violet hue. Thaleia Prokopiou, dressed as high priestess, lit the traditional torch designed by Ilias Lalaounis, which can be seen in the IOC museums in Ancient Olympia and Lausanne, to the accompaniment of the Canto Olimpico composed by Mikis Theodorakis. Greek Olympic Committee head Lambis Nikolaou used his torch, designed by Andreas Varotsos in the shape of an olive leaf, to light the torch of ATHOC president Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, but the flame went out. Spectators whistled and official commentator Alexis Costalas remarked, «Only the flame we have within us never goes out.» People applauded as Nikoalou courteously lit the torch again and the ceremony ended with the flame being relit on the outer podium set up outside the stadium, where it will continue to burn under police supervision and with a guard of honor made up of Greeks and foreigners who come to see it, photograph it, and have their photographs taken with it as a souvenir of the time when they were there, when the Olympic Games returned to the country where they originated.