ANCIENT OLYMPIA (GREECE), April 21: The Olympic flame was lit on Thursday in an ancient temple in one country in crisis and solemnly sent off carrying international hopes that Brazil�s political paralysis will not taint the Rio Games that start in barely 100 days.
As the flame was kindled in the 2,600 year-old Temple of Hera at Ancient Olympia, International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach and Rio organisers sought to rally support for their cause.
Bach told the ceremony that the Rio Games will be held �in a world shaken by crises� but hailed preparations for the first Olympics in South America.
�In just a few weeks, the Brazilian people will enthusiastically welcome the world and amaze us with their joy of life and their passion for sport,� he predicted. �This will be Brazil�s moment and this will be Brazil�s Games.�
�Despite the difficulties that Brazil is facing today, the flame is a timeless reminder that we are all part of the same humanity,� Bach said.
Brazil�s President Dilma Rousseff cancelled her attendance at the flame ceremony as she battles threatened impeachment proceedings. In her place, Rio 2016 organising committee chairman, Carlos Nuzman, said the flame �brings a message that can and will unite, our dear Brazil, a country that deserves its quest for a brighter future.�
Setting off from a Greece beset by its own economic turmoil and now at the forefront of Europe�s migrant crisis, the flame will tour Greece and then go to scores of Brazilian cities before it arrives at Rio�s Maracana Stadium for the August 5 opening ceremony.
After giving thanks to the ancient Greek sun god Apollo, head priestess Katerina Lechou � a prominent theatre and TV actress � handed the flame to the first relay runner, Greece�s artistic gymnastics world champion Lefteris Petrounias. � Agencies