Olympic Flame Lit in Greece Ahead of Rio Games

The ceremony heralds the start a 15-week journey leading to the August 5 opening ceremony in Rio de Janeiro.

Actress Katerina Lechou performing as the High Priestess lights the Olympic flame in ancient Olympia, Greece, April 21, 2016.
Aris Messinis, AFP

AP — The Olympic flame has been kindled at the birthplace of the ancient games in Greece, heralding the start of a 15-week journey leading to the August 5 opening ceremony in Rio de Janeiro.

IOC and Rio organizing committee leaders attended Thursday's flame-lighting at Ancient Olympia, where antiquity's greatest sporting event was held for over 1,000 years.

They voiced confidence Brazil will overcome its political and economic problems to stage successful games, the first in South America.

The flame was lit by an actress impersonating a pagan high priestess and will be delivered to the first torchbearer, Greek world gymnastics champion Eleftherios Petrounias. It will traverse Greece for six days, until the April 27 handover to Brazilian officials in Athens.

After a brief stopover in Switzerland, the flame will start its travels through Brazil on May 3.