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Olympic flame handed over to Beijing organizers
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The High Priestess Maria Nafpliotou kindled the torch from altar and passed it to HOC president Kyriakou, who handed it over to BOCOG president Liu Qi.

Liu preserved the flame in the lantern.

"I like to extend my heartfelt thanks to the Greek people. Thank you for your elaborate arrangement for the Olympic flame lighting, thank you for the hard work ensuring the successful torch relay in Greece, and thank you for your unswerving support for the Beijing Olympic Games," said Liu.

"Tomorrow, the Olympic flame, brimming with friendship and good wishes of Greek people, is heading for Beijing. From its origin, the flame will reach the Great Wall," said Liu.

"Full of Olympic spirit, the flame is to traverse five continents to spread Chinese hospitality and friendship to the world.

"The Olympic spirit of peace, respect and friendship is set to be rooted in China. The ideal of Olympic movement will prevail as the flame reaches the summit of Mt. Qomolangma."

President of Greece Karolos Papoulias attended the ceremony.

The Panathenian Stadium, rebuilt around 300 BC, had hosted the athletic portion of the Panathenaic Games in honor of the Goddess Athena.

In the 2004 Olympic Games, the Panathinaiko Stadium hosted the archery competition and the finish of marathon.

A welcome ceremony will be held on Monday at Tian'anmen Square, the heart of the 2008 Olympic host city.

The Beijing Olympic torch relay includes three parts - the relay outside the Chinese mainland, the one in the Chinese mainland and Mt. Qomolangma expedition.

The Olympic flame will visit 21 cities outside the Chinese mainland and travel across 113 cities and regions in China before it returns to Beijing on August 6 to start the three-day relay in the Chinese capital.

(Xinhua News Agency March 30, 2008)

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