Organizers have planned a 40,400-mile route for the Olympic torch before it reaches Sochi's Olympic Stadium for the Feb. 7 Opening Ceremonies. About 14,000 torchbearers have been chosen to participate in the relay.
"The flame lit today by the Greek sun takes on the responsibility for a peaceful celebration here and now; the torches will carry it into the Olympic future," said Thomas Bach, who was elected president of the International Olympic Committee earlier this month.
"Thus the Olympic Torch Relay will be a messenger for the Olympic values of excellence, friendship and respect without any form of discrimination. In the coming months, this message will reach and inspire people from all walks of life. The goal and culmination of this journey will be the Olympic Stadium in Sochi. There, the Olympic flame will remind all the athletes, participants and spectators of our Olympic values."
The "discrimination" mention was likely a reference to Russian anti-homosexual laws.
The flame is lit by a high priestess at the Temple of Hera using the ray of the sun focused by a parabolic mirror. The flame was passed to Greek skier Giannnis Antoniou, who gave it to Russian hockey player Aleksandr Ovechkin to officially begin the relay.
The torch will be carried through Greece for seven days, reaching Athens Oct. 5 when it is to be handed over for a flight to Moscow.
The 2014 Winter Olympics are to run Feb. 7-23.
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