Olympic flame handed over to Russian organizers
ATHENS, Greece — The Olympic flame was handed to organizers of the Sochi Winter Olympics in a ceremony at the site of the first modern summer games on Saturday.
Actress Ino Menegaki, dressed as a high priestess, who lit the flame in Ancient Olympia last Sunday, lit a torch from a cauldron inside Athens' Panathinaiko Stadium. The flame, placed in a lantern, was handed over to Hellenic Olympic Committee president Spyros Kapralos. He passed it to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak.
After a seven-day run through Greece, the flame will cover 40,000 miles on Russian soil. The record-setting relay will start on Monday in Moscow, in a ceremony attended by Russia President Vladimir Putin, and will finish in Sochi on Feb. 7, the opening day of the games.
The flame will travel through all 83 Russian regions, from the enclave of Kaliningrad in the west, to Chukotka, the region facing Alaska, to the east.
A few dozen activists at the Acropolis staged a peaceful protest Saturday against Russia's law banning gay propaganda.
In a brief speech before the handover of the flame, Kozak referred to the “difficult road” the games organizers and the IOC had travelled from the day the Olympics were awarded to Sochi in 2007. Kozak said organizers had undertaken “the biggest investment project in the history of the Olympic Games.”
The Sochi Olympics are projected to be the costliest. Spending on infrastructure is projected at $50 billion, up from the $12 billion estimate at the time the city won the bid.
“We will fulfill all the engagement we have undertaken to the Olympic movement,” Kozak added.
The Winter Games have drawn the criticism of rights activists who have pointed to discrimination against gays in Russia and a recent law banning “homosexual propaganda.” The International Olympic Committee has warned participating athletes not to make a public issue of it during the games.
Inside Panathinaiko Stadium, two activists silently raised a rainbow flag, but there were otherwise no demonstrations during the ceremony.
On Saturday afternoon, as the flame moved from the Acropolis, where it had stayed overnight, to a cauldron inside the courtyard of the Acropolis Museum, a few dozen gay rights activists gathered on the museum's steps in a peaceful protest. Some held rainbow flags, while others held a banner reading “Homophobia is not in the Olympic Spirit” and “Love is not Propaganda.”
Another banner mentioned “Putin's victims” allegedly beaten, raped or murdered for being gay.
“The Olympics should have taken a stand against this law in Russia because the Olympic ideals are for supporting human rights and diversity and that's not what's happening in Russia,” said protester Zak Kostopoulos.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Kennywood fanatic, 82, rides Jack Rabbit 95 times in a row
- Liriano strikes out 12, leads Pirates past Mets
- Steel Valley baseball gets another chance to advance
- Summertime is the perfect opportunity to dig into a good book
- Housing authority officer shot dead in New Orleans
- Senior Pitchford makes Serra track history
- Chicago inmate eats screws, needles, amasses $1M medical tab
- Mercyhurst wins opener at NCAA D-II baseball championships
- Deer Lakes softball team seeks 2nd WPIAL title in 4 years
- Ex-Baldwin, Pitt star Pinkston not giving up on NFL dream
- Florida mother who refused circumcision for son, 4, freed