Olympic relay set to promote winter sports

The Olympic Flame for the 2006 Winter Games at Turin will be lit on November 27 in Ancient Olympia, and for the first time ever it will tour every Greek skiing center in a bid to promote the country’s winter sports. Following a meeting with the Turin Games chief Valentino Castellani, Greek Olympic Committee chief Minos Kyriakou said the flame will travel to many little-known Greek skiing resorts before heading off to Rome on December 7. The 2004 Olympic marathon champion Stefano Baldini will be the first torchbearer on Italian soil, while the first runner in Olympia has yet to be announced. «For the first time we have decided to stage a relay to all winter sports centers, which will be a great promotion of our common aim, the Winter Games,» Kyriakou told reporters yesterday. A mainly mountainous country better known for its islands and beaches, Greece has seen a sharp rise in winter sports enthusiasts over the past decade with significant investments in new centers, hotels and lifts across the country. Olympia, site of the ancient Games, plays host to the torch-lighting ceremony and is the start of the relay ahead of every Summer and Winter Games, held every two years. «People like me who organize such events live with this dream, to return to Greece where the Games were founded,» Castellini said. (Reuters)