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Olympic Flame Ceremony Rehearsal in Ancient Olympia March 23, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Olympic Games.
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The final rehearsal for the Olympic Flame Lighting ritual of the Beijing Games was held today in Olympia, the Greek city where the Ancient Olympics were born in 776 BC.

23-03-08_rehearsal1.jpg  Hazy skies that persisted to the last minute prevented organisers from lighting the Games’ sacred flame through use of a polished mirror. A flame lit during a prior rehearsal yesterday was used instead.

23-03-08_rehearsal2.jpg  Actresses dressed as ancient Greek priestesses performed a choreographed ceremony which for the first time included six young boys acting out racing, wrestling, long jump, javelin and discus throw events from the ancient pentathlon.

23-03-08_rehearsal3.jpg  Head priestess Maria Nafpliotou then lit the Beijing Games torch carried by the first relay runner, Greek taekwondo athlete Alexandros Nikolaidis, a silver medallist in the Athens 2004 Games.  The official ceremony will be held tomorrow, Monday 24 March.

23-03-08_rehearsal4.jpg  In case of heavy rain at the scheduled time, there are contingencies for the ceremony to take place indoors at the site’s Archeological Museum. Only once have we had rain for the summer Olympics, in 1956 ahead of the Games in Melbourne. 

23-03-08_rehearsal5.jpg  Concern over protests in Olympia against the 57-year occupation of Tibet by China, and last week’s crackdown in the Himalayan province by Chinese forces, has also introduced unprecedented security to this year’s ceremony. Hotels in Olympia are opening their guest lists to police inspection, officers are patrolling the hills around the ancient stadium where the ritual is held and there are plans to prevent spectators from lining the relay route.

23-03-08_rehearsal6.jpg  Thousands of people are expected to attend tomorrow’s ceremony, including 2500 accredited journalists and dignitaries, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge, Beijing Olympic organising committee chairman Liu Qi, and the President and Prime Minister of Greece. 

23-03-08_rehearsal7.jpg  A number of Chinese athletes are scheduled to run the early relay leg out of Olympia, including Chinese swimmer Luo Xuejuan, a gold medalist in the 2004 Olympics, who will be the second relay runner.

23-03-08_rehearsal8.jpg  The flame will be handed over to the Chinese Olympic Committee on March 30 in another ceremony at the all-marble Panathenaic Stadium in Athens, where the first modern Olympics were held in 1896.

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