Winter Sports

Countdown to Sochi 2014 begins in the Russian capital

The Olympic flame was lit during a special ceremony in Olympia last week (©GettyImages)
The Olympic flame was lit during a special ceremony in Olympia last week (©GettyImages).

The Red Square in Moscow will come to standstill on Sunday as the Olympic flame arrives in the Russian capital for the start of the Sochi 2014 torch relay.

President Vladimir Putin is expected to attend a day of public events in the city centre, which provided a focal point to the 1980 Summer Games, with the Olympic torch beginning its four-month long journey to the Caucasus for February's spectacle of winter sports.

According to ancient custom, the flame was transferred to the Russian delegation yesterday during a ritual event at the white marble Panathinaikos Stadium in Athens, having been lit by the sun's rays at the birthplace of the Olympic Games in Olympia six days earlier.

With fewer than 125 days remaining until the start of the 2014 Winter Olympics, it was then flown to Moscow by a specially-chartered Aeroflot plane, where the home leg of the torch relay is due to begin today.

The record-breaking relay route traverses all 83 regions of the Russian Federation - paying special visits to the North Pole and International Space Station - before arriving at the Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi for the traditional opening ceremony on February 7.

As the Olympic flame is rekindled in Russia for the first time since 1980, Sochi 2014 organising committee chief Dmitry Chernyshenko said that the so far controversial build-up to the Games will ultimately provide an opportunity to showcase a contemporary Russia.

He said in a statement: "The longest Olympic Torch Relay is a unique opportunity to unite the nation and draw people's attention to the major event taking place in our country. Without doubt, the Olympics will present the new face of modern Russia and become one of our evident achievements of 2014."

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Winter Sports

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