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Lighting the 2012 Olympic Flame

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Seven years after London was selected to host the 2012 Summer Olympics, the Olympic Flame is on its way to England. Earlier today in Greece, performers dressed as priests and priestesses gathered for a ceremony in Olympia, the ancient birthplace of the Olympic games, where they appealed to the sun god Apollo to light the flame with the help of a parabolic mirror. The Olympic flame was then passed to swimmer Spyros Gianniotis to begin a seven-day relay through Greece, followed by a flight to Great Britain, where it will begin a 70-day journey, changing hands 8,000 times on its way to London. (See also Max Fisher's Nazi Origins of the Olympic Flame Relay, from today on the Atlantic.) [19 photos]

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A priestess holding a lit cauldron performs in the final dress rehearsal for the lighting of the flame held on May 9, 2012, in ancient Olympia, Greece. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
A priestess holding a lit cauldron performs in the final dress rehearsal for the lighting of the flame held on May 9, 2012, in ancient Olympia, Greece. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Priestesses perform the ceremony for the Lighting of the Olympic Flame in ancient Olympia, on May 9, 2012 in Olympia, Greece. (Jamie McDonald/Getty Images) #
A view from above of the London 2012 Olympic Games torch lighting ceremony at the site of ancient Olympia in Greece, on May 10, 2012. (Reuters/Kevin Coombs) #
Performers dressed as ancient Greek priestesses perform a ritual dance, during the lighting of the flame ceremony, on May 10, 2012, in ancient Olympia. (AP Photo/Kostas Tsironis) #
Priests perform during the ceremonial Lighting of the Olympic Flame in ancient Olympia on May 9, 2012. (Jamie McDonald/Getty Images) #
Actress dressed as ancient Greek priestesses perform a ritual dance on May 9, 2012, in ancient Olympia. (AP Photo/Kostas Tsironis) #
An actress, playing the role of a priestess, releases a dove during the dress rehearsal for the torch lighting ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games in Greece, on May 9, 2012. (Reuters/John Kolesidis) #
Priestesses on a hillside during the Lighting Ceremony of the Olympic Flame, on May 10, 2012 in Olympia, Greece. (Jamie McDonald/Getty Images) #
Priestesses perform in the Temple of Hera during the Olympic Flame lighting ceremony on May 10, 2012. (Jamie McDonald/Getty Images) #
Greek actress Ino Menegaki, playing the role of High Priestess, prepares to light the Olympic Flame in Greece, on May 9, 2012. (Reuters/John Kolesidis) #
Ino Menegaki, acting as high priestess, lights the Olympic Flame using a parabolic mirror to focus sunlight on a torch during the lighting ceremony in ancient Olympia, on May 10, 2012. (Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images) #
The high priestess passes the Olympic flame she has just lit to a priestess holding a cauldron on Wednesday. May 9, 2012, in Ancient Olympia, Greece. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris) #
The high priestess holds an urn carrying the Olympic Flame on May 10, 2012 during the lighting ceremony. (Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images) #
The high priestess carries the Olympic Flame in ancient Olympia during the lighting of the flame ceremony, on Thursday. May 10, 2012. (AP Photo/Kostas Tsironis) #
A high priestess, holding a lit torch and an olive branch, performs on Wednesday. May 9, 2012, in ancient Olympia, Greece. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris) #
The Olympic Flame is passed to Spyros Gianniotis, a 32-year-old Liverpool-born swimmer, who won a silver medal for Greece in the 5-kilometer open water event four years ago in Beijing, during the lighting of the flame ceremony, on May 10, 2012. (AP Photo/Kostas Tsironis) #
Spyros Gianniotis, Greece's world champion of swimming, carries the flame during a dress rehearsal for the torch lighting ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games in Greece, on May 9, 2012. (Reuters/Kevin Coombs) #
The first torch bearer Spyros Gianniotis (left) hands over the Olympic Flame to British boxer Alexandros Lucas at the start of the torch relay on May 10, 2012. (Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images) #
The London 2012 Olympic torch, lit in ancient Olympia on May 9, 2012. (Jamie McDonald/Getty Images) #

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