ATHENS, Greece, March 25 (UPI) -- The Olympic torch was lighted in ancient Olympia Thursday and will be taken around the world en route to the 2004 Summer Games in Athens.
"It will be the first relay that will traverse the globe and return to where its journey began," said a report on the Olympics' Web site.
After a lighting ceremony at Olympia, the birthplace of the Games about 220 miles from Athens, a Greek javelin champion began the first leg of a two-stage relay throughout Greece.
In June, the flame will be taken to more than two-dozen countries, followed by the second part of the Greece relay, ending in Athens for the Aug. 13-29 Games.
About 7,700 torchbearers will take the flame through Greece's 54 prefectures. At some points the torch will be carried by boat, car or helicopter.
The theme of the relay is "Pass the flame, unite the world."
Among cities visited on the torch's international trip will be Sydney and Melbourne in Australia, where the last summer games were staged; Berlin, where the torch relay started in 1936, and Moscow, Beijing, Barcelona, Rome, Stockholm, Paris, Helsinki, New York, Atlanta, St. Louis and Los Angeles.