Paris organizers take delivery of Olympic flame at Greek venue of first modern Games

ATHENS, Greece, 26 Apr: The Paris Oympics flame was formally handed to French organizers on Friday in the all-marble stadium where the first modern Games were held in Athens in 1896.
Greek water polo player Ioannis Fountoulis, the last in a long line of torchbearers, used the flame to light a cauldron at the Panathenaic Stadium. From there, it was delivered to Paris 2024 chief Tony Estanguet.
A few moments of suspense followed as assistants struggled to light the lantern that will carry the flame to France.
“It wants to stay in Greece,” Estanguet joked.
Safely in the lantern, the flame will depart for France on Saturday on a 19th century sailing ship across the Mediterranean Sea, to make landfall 12 days later in the southern port city of Marseille.
The flame was kindled on April 16 at Olympia in southern Greece, where the ancient games were held for more than 1,000 years from about 776 B.C. to A.D. 393.
From Olympia’s ancient stadium, a relay of torchbearers carried it along a 5,000-kilometer (3,100-mile) route through Greece, which included several islands and an overnight stop on the ancient Acropolis.
The Olympic flame will be housed overnight in the French Embassy, to leave Athens’ port of Piraeus on Saturday on the Belem, a French three-masted sailing ship built in the year of the first modern games in Athens.
The Belem is due in Marseille on May 8, ahead of a relay through France leading to the opening ceremony in Paris.
The Games run from July 26-August 11. AP