The Beijing Olympic torch will be lit by the sun's rays in ancient Olympia, Greece, on March 24, according to the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG).
"We will continue with the traditional way to kindle the flame as it symbolizes the purity of the Olympic flame," Li Ping, spokeswoman for BOCOG's Olympic Torch Relay Center, was quoted as saying by Beijing Morning Post over the weekend.
"The flame is lit using a concave mirror to focus the rays of the sun, and a back-up fire will be prepared the same way during the rehearsal phase in case of cloudy weather on March 24," she added.
Li quoted Greek mythology that says the Sun God Apollo originally lit the Olympic flame to bring brightness and warmth to human beings.
The flame will be handed over to BOCOG at 3 pm on March 30 at the Panathenian Stadium in Athens, the city where the first modern Olympics Games was held in 1896.
After a reception in Beijing on March 31, the Olympic flame will begin its global tour of 135 cities around the world on April 1. The relay will cover 137,000 km in 130 days before the flame finally arrives at the National Stadium in Beijing on Aug 8, 2008 for the opening ceremony.
The highlight of the torch relay, involving a total of 21,780 torchbearers, will be an attempt to take the Olympic flame to the summit of Mount Qomolangma, known as Mt Everest in the West, in May. Li said the list of some 19,400 torchbearers and the roadmap for the torch relay over 700 cities in China would be made public soon.
(China Daily March 17, 2008)