The Olympic torch for the 2016 Summer Games was lit at the Temple of Hera in Olympia, Greece on Thursday morning.
Greek actress Katerina Lechou lit the torch using a concave mirror to focus the sun’s rays, before placing it into a ceramic bowl. The torch was passed on to gymnastics gold medalist Eleftherios Petrounias of Greece, who will be the first of many torch bearers between now the Opening Ceremonies on Aug. 5.
“In these difficult days that Brazil is facing, the flame is a timeless reminder that we all are part of the same humanity,” International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said. “May today’s lighting of the Olympic flame be another reminder to everyone to uphold the spirit of the Olympic Games and to build a better world through sport.”
The torch is expected to arrive in Brazil on April 27 where it will visit 83 cities, 26 state capitals and 500 towns over 95 days.
A Syrian refugee is slated to accept the torch when it passes through the Eleonas refugee camp in central Athens. The International Olympic Committee is looking to support a team of athletes for the 2016 Olympics that will compete under the Olympic flag.
The flaming torch has its own Twitter account with 3,300 followers as of Thursday morning.
- Chris Chavez