Flame for Rio Olympics is lit at birthplace of ancient Games

A dancer dressed as priestess lights the Olympic flame with a parabolic mirror during the ceremonial lighting of the Olympic flame in Ancient Olympia, Greece, Thursday, April 21, 2016. The flame will be transported by torch relay to the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro, which will host the 2016 Olympic Games. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

ANCIENT OLYMPIA, Greece (AP) – The Olympic flame has been kindled at the birthplace of the ancient games in Greece, heralding the start of a 15-week journey leading to the Aug. 5 opening ceremony in Rio de Janeiro.

IOC and Rio organizing committee leaders attended Thursday’s flame-lighting at Ancient Olympia, where antiquity’s greatest sporting event was held for over 1,000 years.

They voiced confidence Brazil will overcome its political and economic problems to stage successful games, the first in South America.

The flame was lit by an actress impersonating a pagan high priestess and will be delivered to the first torchbearer, Greek world gymnastics champion Eleftherios Petrounias. It will traverse Greece for six days, until the April 27 handover to Brazilian officials in Athens.

After a brief stopover in Switzerland, the flame will start its travels through Brazil on May 3.

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