• Short Summary

    The Olympic torch has begun its 4,892 kilometres (3,000 miles) journey to Moscow to mark the opening of the 1980 Olympic Games.

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    GV Women in Greek dress kneeling to light torch at Olympia, Greece

    SV Torch lit and held aloft

    GV Of ceremony then torch laid on ground and official receives chalice (2 shots)

    GV Ceremony of cup being brought to altar and praying to Ancient Greek gods (5 shots)

    GV Runners coming to receive torch (3 shots)

    GV Woman hands torch and Olive branch to the runner .. torch held aloft to crowd

    It will take the torch seven days to reach this border. From there, another six days to cross Bulgaria, five days in Romania, and twelve days inside the Soviet Union -- a total of one month to cover the 4,892 kilometres (3,000 miles) to Moscow.

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    Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved

    Background: The Olympic torch has begun its 4,892 kilometres (3,000 miles) journey to Moscow to mark the opening of the 1980 Olympic Games. The torch was lit on Thursday (19 June) in the ancient town of Olympia birthplace of the Games, and will continue to burn until the closing ceremony at Moscow.

    SYNOPSIS: The ancient ceremony has been performed before every Olympic Game. Classical actress maria Moscholiou kindled the flame by the sun with a parabolic mirror.

    The flame, set alight in the ancient olive groves of Olympia, is the Olympic symbol of peace and fraternity.

    Because of the international controversy surrounding the Moscow games, Greek President Constantine Karamanlis proposed the Games should go back to their ancient birthplace so they couldn't be used for political and financial exploitation. The Greek Government has offered one thousand two hundred and fifty acres (500 hectares) of land at Ancient Olympia as a permanent site for the Games.

    The ancient religious festival, of which the Olympics were a part, were held here every four years from the eighth century BC until the end of the fourth century AD. The precinct was called the Altis, of sacred grove of Zeus. it contained the temples of Zeus and Hera, the main altars and votive offerings, the treasuries, and administration buildings.

    For this year's ceremony, participants went to the altar near the entrance of the Hera temple to pray Zeus and other gods to bless the forthcoming Games. They also paid tribute to Baron Pierre de Coubertin, who revived the modern Olympics.

    In the usual tradition, an immense relay or runners will carry the torch to Moscow. The first was a Greek high school student, Athanassios Cosmopoulos, who took it out of the ancient stadium to begin the three hundred and fifty kilometres (219.9 miles) relay to Athens. Each runner takes the torch one thousand metres (1093.61 yards). A total of one thousand one hundred and seventy runners will carry it the equivalent number of kilometres (730 miles) to the Greek-Bulgarian border.

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