Olympic flame lit

The countdown the Olympic Games in London has begun with the lighting of the Olympic flame at the Temple of Hera in Olympia, Greece, where the ancient Games took place.

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London 2012 welcomes the Olympic Flame

David Beckham during the official handover ceremony of the Olympic Flame at the Panathenaic Stadium, home of the 1896 Athens Games. Credit: Press Association

The Olympic Flame will be transferred to Lands End where three-time Olympic sailing champion Ben Ainslie will be the first torchbearer in the final 70-day relay to the start of the Games.

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Olympic flame lit

The flame is lit directly from the rays of the sun, through a parabolic mirror. Credit: ITV News

The Olympic flame for the London 2012 games has been lit in Greece this morning.

The traditional ceremony took place under a baking sun in front of the ruins of the Temple of Hera in Olympia, Greece, the birthplace of the Ancient Games.

The flame is lit in front of the ancient ruins of the Temple of Hera Credit: ITV News

Dressed in traditional robes, a "high priestess" llifted a blazing torch from a parabolic mirror. This is to guarantee the flame is lit directly from the sun, according to tradition and is the only way the flame can be lit, as stated by ancient rituals.

The "high priestess" with the Olympic flame. Credit: ITV News

Olympic officials attend flame lighting ceremony

Lord Coe with Spyros Capralos and Jacques Rogge in Olympia, Athens. Credit: ITV News

Locog Chairman Lord Coe, International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge and Hellenic Olympic Committee president Spyros Capralos are in Olympia for the Olympic flame lighting ceremony.

Lord Coe and Jacques Rogge each received ceremonial gifts from the Hellenic Olympic Committee president.

Ino Menegaki is the "high priestess" who lit the flame from the rays of the sun. Credit: ITV News

The traditional ceremony took place in front of the ruins of the Temple of Hera in Olympia, Greece, the birthplace of the Ancient Games.

Olympic flame lighting ceremony underway

The Olympic flame lighting ceremony has started in the ancient city of Olympia in Greece. The ceremony started with the raising of three flags: the Olympic flag, the Union Jack, and the Greek flag.

Three flags were raised during the ceremony. Credit: Three flags were raised during the ceremony: The Olympic flag, the Union Jack, then the Greek flag

Officials from the London Organising Committee are taking part in the hour-long ceremony that will culminate in the Olympic flame being lit by a "high priestess" who captures the morning sun's rays in a parabolic mirror.

Officials from the London organising committee applaud after the flags are raised. Credit: ITV News

The flame will then travel 1,800 miles around Greece before flying to Britain on May 18.

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