(ATR) The longest torch relay in the history of the Olympics begins Sunday in ancient Olympia. The journey from Greece, to the length of Russia – even outer space – will end in Sochi February 7, 2014.
The traditional flame lighting ceremony takes place in Olympia; the earliest torch lighting ceremony for a Winter Olympics.
Newly elected IOC president Thomas Bach plans to attend the lighting, his first foray abroad since becoming IOC president earlier this month.
"It will be a highly anticipated moment," Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee President Dmitry Chernyshenko tells Around the Rings.
"It’s something we’ve been preparing for during the past one and a half years. It’s the biggest ever for the Olympics; 124 days, two times around the equator."
After the midday lighting ceremony, Ioannis Antoniou will be the first to run with the Olympic flame. The 18 year old skier hopes to compete in Sochi. He competed at the 2013 Skiing World Championships in Austria last February. The five-day Greek relay travels to Delphi, Patras, Thessaloniki and Athens. A handover ceremony from Greece to Sochi takes place October 5.
The flame arrives in Moscow October 6 when Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin will be the first Russian torch bearer.
He will be one of 14,000 torch bearers across 65,000 kilometers of Russia before reaching Sochi.
In early November the torch will even travel into space. A cosmonaut will take the torch on a spacewalk outside the International Space Station. The rocket delivering the torch payload will be adorned in the Sochi 2014 color scheme and graphics, Around the Rings is told.
"It will be a great tool for the country to explore ourselves," Chernyshenko says about the relay.
"People are looking forward to this, to having some good news, a landmark, a historical milestone."
Around the Rings European Correspondent Brian Pinelli is in Olympia to cover the event.
Written byNicole BennettandEd Hula.
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