Minoa Kyriakou, president of the Hellenic Olympic Committee, handed the Olympic flame over to Beijing Olympic chief Liu Qi at the Panathenan Stadium on Sunday afternoon, after the six-day torch relay in Greece was wrapped up. [Full coverage] [Video]
The flame is to arrive in Beijing on Monday, to start a month-long "Journey of Harmony" across the world.
The handover ceremony started at 3:00 pm, four bannermen from China and Greece each carried the two countries' national flags into the Panathenian Stadium, where the first modern Olympic Games was staged in 1896.
The national anthems were performed by the Philharmonic Band of the City of Athens.
The priestesses, all wearing pleated white dresses and sandals, entered the stadium to practice ancient Greek rituals. Chrysopigi Devetzi, silver medalist of triple jump in the 2004 Games, was the last torchbearer of the Greek relay, running into the stadium holding the flame and lighted the altar.
"It's a great moment for us to transfer the Olympic flame to our Chinese friends in the wake of the Greece relay," said Kyriakou.
"Greece, with truthful good-fellowship, hands the flame over to China. The follow-up international relay will spread the message of peace, cooperation and mutual respect.
"The Greek leg of torch relay brought inspiration, passion and emotion to people. As a symbol of Olympic flame, respect, pride and sticking by cause and value are bound with it."
Following the IOC anthem, three flame guards from China stepped up taking a flame safety lantern and lighting stick.