The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) revealed yesterday the first details of the lighting of the Olympic Flame for the London 2012 Olympic Games on 10 May, and its arrival into the UK on 18 May. The Flame will travel around the UK for 70 days on the Olympic Torch Relay from 19 May to 27 July, presented by Coca-Cola, Lloyds TSB and Samsung.
Olympic Park. Aerial view of the Velodrome and the BMX track. Photo by Anthony Charlton
• Olympic Flame to be lit in Olympia, Greece on 10 May
• 8 day relay around Greek mainland and islands from 10 May to 17 May
• Olympic Flame Handover Ceremony to be held at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens on 17 May
• Olympic Flame arrives into Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose in Cornwall on 18 May on board British Airways flight ‘BA2012’
Organised by the Hellenic Olympic Committee (HOC), the Olympic Flame will be lit mid-morning (BST) on 10 May using the sun’s rays at the Temple of Hera in Olympia, in a traditional hour-long ceremony among the historic ruins of the home of the ancient Games.
From the Lighting Ceremony in Olympia, the HOC will take the Olympic Flame on an 8-day relay around Greece before arriving at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens on 17 May for the official Olympic Flame Handover Ceremony. During an early evening (BST) hour-long ceremony, the Olympic Flame will be handed over to a London 2012 representative.
Sebastian Coe, Chair of LOCOG said: ‘It gives me great pleasure to confirm 10 May as the Flame lighting date and RNAS Culdrose as the Olympic Flame’s arrival point into the UK. My team is looking forward to working with the Hellenic Olympic Committee, the Ministry of Defence and our commercial partners to create exciting events to mark the Flame’s Greek provenance and its arrival to our shores.’
The Greek leg of the Torch Relay will showcase the beauty and history of the Greek mainland and islands to the world. The second Torchbearer on the first day and the penultimate Torchbearer on the last day of the Greek leg will be chosen by London 2012. Both Torchbearers will be inspirational people from the UK and their names will be confirmed nearer the time.
British Airways, the official airline partner of the London 2012 Games and Supporter of the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay, will carry the Olympic Flame on board flight ‘BA2012’ – a gold-liveried aircraft from Athens into the UK on 18 May. The specially chartered Airbus 319 will also transport the official delegation of UK representatives to and from the Athens Handover Ceremony.
As the Olympic Flame is classified as a symbolic flame it is permitted to be carried on board an aircraft subject to special authorisation from the Civil Aviation Authority. The Flame will travel in a ceremonial lantern that is secured in a specially designed cradle which is, in turn, firmly fixed to its seat on the plane using a secure holding device. The lantern is designed so the Olympic Flame can burn safely for up to 30 hours.
The Flame will arrive into the UK at RNAS Culdrose, near Helston in Cornwall early evening (BST) of 18 May. In addition to being close to the start point of the Torch Relay at Land’s End, the arrival at RNAS Culdrose acknowledges the vital contribution that maritime and coastal search and rescue services undertake for our island nation. RNAS Culdrose, home to most of the Navy’s Merlin and Sea King helicopter squadrons that are supporting operations around the world, also offers a beautiful Cornish setting in which an estimated 1000 guests, media and members of the local community are expected to welcome the Olympic Flame.
Secretary of State for Defence Philip Hammond said: ‘I am delighted that Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose will be the first to welcome the Olympic Flame into the UK. It is a fantastic opportunity for the Armed Forces to be involved in such a unique event, and one they can take pride in for years to come.’
Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, Jeremy Hunt said: ‘When BA2012 touches down in Cornwall carrying the Olympic torch it will be a hugely exciting moment. This kicks off our incredible Torch Relay right around the country and I’m sure the torch will spread ‘Olympic fever’ everywhere it goes.’
Captain Willie Entwisle, Commanding Officer of Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose, said: ‘We are honoured that the Olympic Flame will arrive in the UK by landing at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose. Our personnel, many of whom are currently supporting the Royal Navy on operations across the globe, are very excited that the build up to the London 2012 Olympic Games will start here. We are delighted to be playing such an important part in this once-in-a-lifetime event.’
On the morning of 19 May the Olympic Flame will then travel from RNAS Culdrose to Land’s End ready for the start of the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay. The Olympic Flame will travel 8,000 miles across the UK to within 10 miles of 95% of the population. 8,000 Torchbearers will carry the Olympic Flame for approximately 300 metres each, passing the Olympic Flame from torch to torch until it reaches the Olympic Stadium on the eve of 27 July.