November 27, 2005

Turin Games torch lit with back-up flame on cloudy day

OLYMPIA, Greece (Reuters) - Organisers were forced to use a
back-up flame in the torch-lighting ceremony for the 2006 Turin
Winter Olympics on an overcast Sunday.

Greek sun god Apollo did not hear the prayers of high
priestess Theodora Siarkou, who had to light the torch from a
replica ancient cauldron which contained the flame from
Saturday's dress rehearsal, instead of using the concave steel
mirror to focus the sun's rays.

The ceremony in the temple of Hera, a few metres away from
the stadium that hosted the ancient Olympics 25 centuries ago,
marked the start of the torch relay that will pass through
Greece and Italy before lighting the Games cauldron in Turin on
February 10.

Organisers of the 20th Winter Games, held in the northern
Italian city between February 10 and 26, hope the torch relay
will improve sluggish ticket sales and trigger a last-minute
rush once Italians see the flame making its way across the

Some two-and-a-half months before the start of the Games,
only about 60 percent of tickets have been sold against a
target of 82 percent.

This was the fourth time in five Summer and Winter Games
torch ceremonies that rain or clouds washed out the event first
introduced for the 1936 Berlin Olympics.