1. ITV Report

The Olympic Flame heads to London

President of the Hellenic Olympic Committee Spyros Capralos, Boris Johnson, The Princess Royal, David Beckham, Lord Coe and Hugh Robertson. Photo: PRESS ASSOCIATION

London were handed the Olympic Flame to host the Games for a third time during an historic ceremony in Athens.

The city of London previously hosted the Olympic Games in 1908 and 1948, and now the focus of the world is on the English capital again ahead of the opening ceremony, which begins on July 27.

The Princess Royal, as leader of the British delegation to Athens, completed the official handover. She was presented with the flame by Karolos Papoulias, the Hellenic Republic president at the ancient Panathenaic Stadium - which was the venue of the first modern Olympics in 1896.

ITV's Richard Pallot reports:

The British delegation team, which included London 2012 chairman Lord Coe, Olympics minister Hugh Robertson, London mayor Boris Johnson and David Beckham will fly back to the UK on Friday.

They are to land at RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall, where they will attend a special ceremony welcoming the flame.

A 70-day relay, involving 8,000 torchbearers covering 8,000 miles, will then take the flame to east London's Olympic Stadium.Five British sporting teenagers were also part of the British delegation and they were picked by London 2012 for displaying Olympic values.

They exchanged symbolic olive branches to the tune of John Lennon's "Imagine".

Addressing the official handover ceremony, London 2012 chairman Lord Coe thanked the Greek crowd, who braved rainy conditions, for their warm hospitality.

The past week had linked Britain and Greece in a "very special way in the spirit of peace and friendship", he said.

We have found the very best torchbearers who, like Olympic athletes, will inspire a generation.

As we prepare to bring the flame to the UK, we are reminded of our responsiblity - like that of our predecessors in 1908 and especially 1948 - to stage Games that use the power of sport to unite the world in a celebration of achievement and inspiration in challenging times.

A Games that will inspire the next generation to choose sport.

The Princess Royal is handed the torch during the ceremony. Credit: Chris Radburn/LOCOG/PA Wire

Earlier on in the procession, a trio of world champions brought the flame safely to the stadium following its recent tour around the Greek mainland and islands since it was lit by the rays of the sun in ancient Olympia last week.

It arrived in the hands of rower Christina Giazitzidou and was carried by gymnast Vasilis Tsolakidis and rower Alexandra Tsiavou.

Chinese gymnast Li Ning, who lit the cauldron at the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Games, and Greek weightlifter Pyrros Dimas were the last torchbearers in Greece.

The ceremony ended when the British delegation walked slowly out of the stadium as the Princess carried the flame in a miner's lamp.