SPORTS

Olympic torch inspired by the symbol of peace is unveiled

Athens Olympics organizers yesterday unveiled the torch for the 2004 Olympics, made of wood and magnesium and shaped in the likeness of an olive leaf. International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge and chief 2004 organizer Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki presented the torch, which they hope will promote Olympic ideals such as peace and the ancient tradition of giving Olympic champions olive wreaths. «It perfectly captures the image of contemporary Greece. We were inspired by the way this torch will reflect the spirit of Greece along with the values of peace and hope to every place it travels to,» Angelopoulos-Daskalaki said. The torch is 68 centimeters (26.8 inches) high and weighs 700 grams (24.7 ounces). It was chosen out of 21 proposals and created by Greek industrial designer Andreas Varotsos. «In the torch, I have tried to include as many elements as possible of Greek civilization and culture for the purpose of promoting through it dialogue between people, which is the fundamental aim of the Olympic Games,» Varotsos said. The torch drew inspiration from the olive tree, which has also contributed to the olive-wreath design of the Athens 2004 emblem, Angelopoulos-Daskalaki said. «It had to express the values of 2004, the human scale, participation, celebration, heritage, but it also had to express the contemporary face of Greece,» she added. Rogge said the torch has «become a very powerful symbol» of the modern Olympics. «Fire is indeed the symbol of purity, the purity that we strive to obtain through the Olympic Games, through the educational message of sports for the youth, even if sometimes that purity is very difficult to achieve,» Rogge said. He was accompanied by Denis Oswald, head of the IOC coordination team for Athens, and Gilbert Felli, IOC sports director. «The torch is fantastic. The design is wonderful, very pure lines, and also takes its inspiration from the olive tree, which is so symbolic for the Olympic Games and for Greece,» Oswald said, adding it was his favorite among all the designs submitted. Although details have not been released, the Olympic torch relay will last five months. It will be the first time the torch will pass through each of the continents with the exception of Antarctica, organizers said.