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Elaborate Opening Ceremony Planned for Athens Olympics - 2004-08-13

The Summer Olympics open Friday, in Greece, birthplace of the games nearly 2800 years ago.

The modern games were revived in 1896 in Athens and are held every four years. Now the Olympics are back in Greece, and history is playing a large role.

After a marathon journey covering five continents the Olympic flame burns at the 2500-year-old temple at the Acropolis overlooking Athens. The flame will make its final journey to the altar of the Olympic Stadium during the opening ceremony later today.

Since it was lit on March 25 by the sun's rays at Ancient Olympia, the birthplace of the games, the flame has traveled 78,000 kilometers through 34 countries, including Africa and South America for the first time. The flame's origins lie in ancient Greece, when a fire was kept burning throughout the celebration of the ancient Olympics. It commemorates the theft of fire from the Greek god Zeus by Prometheus. The fire was reintroduced at the Olympics in 1928, and it has been part of the modern Olympic Games ever since. The modern torch relay was introduced for the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin.

The Olympic cauldron will be lit during elaborate opening ceremonies, and will remain lit until the games conclude on August 29.