News / Europe

Russia Receives Sochi Olympics Flame

Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak attends a handover ceremony of the Olympic flame for the Sochi 2014 Winter Games at the Panathenean stadium in Athens October 5, 2013.
Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak attends a handover ceremony of the Olympic flame for the Sochi 2014 Winter Games at the Panathenean stadium in Athens October 5, 2013.
Reuters
— The flame that will burn at next year's Sochi Winter Olympics was handed over to Russia on Saturday in the marble stadium that hosted the first modern Games in 1896.
 
After a six-day trek across 33 towns in Greece's mainly mountainous northern regions, the flame that was lit last Sunday by the sun's rays at the birthplace of the ancient Games in Olympia was presented to Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak.
 
From its overnight perch on the ancient Acropolis, the flame traveled through Athens' streets before being carried into the stadium, built in 330 BC, by Greek figure skating champion Panagiotis Markouzios.
 
As he lit the golden cauldron encircled by priestesses in long, cream-colored, pleated robes, the crowd erupted in cheers of “Russia! Russia!”
 
“We are especially emotional,” Hellenic Olympic Committee head Spyros Capralos said. “The flame, for us Greeks, is a piece of our country, a part of our history and a tight bond to our ancestors.”
 
The flame will be flown in special safety lanterns from Athens to Moscow on Sunday and it will then begin the longest torch relay in the history of the Winter Games from the Red Square.
 
It will travel more than 65,000 km, looping around Russia's 83 regions on foot, in sleighs, hot air balloons and even on a trip to space, as Russia prepares to showcase its modern post-Soviet face.
 
More than 90 percent of the Russian population will have been within one hour of the flame before the lighting of the Olympic cauldron takes place at the stadium at the Black Sea resort of Sochi on February 7.

“Great honor”

“For me it is a great honor, responsibility and pleasure to be here tonight, on the land that gave birth to the European civilization and presented the world with the Olympic Games,” Kozak said.
 
“On this momentous day I am telling you with certainty that our country ... will succeed in fulfilling its commitment to the Olympic movement,” Kozak added.
 
Russian President Vladimir Putin has vowed to deliver a “brilliant” Games to show how far Russia has come since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
 
But Russia has come under mounting international criticism over a new anti-gay propaganda law, which critics believe is repressive, and preparations for the Games will not be plain sailing for the Russian hosts.
 
Earlier in the day, a group of Greek gay activists raised the rainbow flag outside Greece's Acropolis museum in Athens.
 
“Russia receives the Olympic flame, a globally recognized symbol of humanitarian ideals,” the Athens-based gay rights group Color Youth said in a statement.
 
“Yet the laws in Russia are far from the ideals of human rights when it comes to LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans-gender, queer) people, who are tortured, abused and discriminated against. We choose not to be silent this day,” it said.

You May Like

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid