Fri, Jul 02, 2004 - Page 23 News List

`Zeus' brings the Olympic flame to sit of 1912 games


Landing in a special jet painted in Olympic colors and dubbed the "Zeus," the Olympic flame was greeted yesterday by a throng of spectators as it began its relay through the capital, the site of the 1912 Summer Games.

At Arlanda International Airport outside Stockholm, nearly a hundred people greeted the "Zeus" on the tarmac, the Swedish flag flying atop the cockpit. Stockholm City Sports Commissioner Py Boerjesson ferried the flame down the exit ramp where it was cradled by Swedish Olympic officials ahead of its 48km relay.

"It's fantastic having the Olympic torch here with us," Boerjesson said. "It symbolizes sports and the Olympic ideal, with fellowship, cooperation, friendship and peace of course."

The torch was flown in from Berlin, the site of the first modern torch relay more than six decades ago, when that city hosted the 1936 Summer Games.

One of the 24 runners picked by the Swedish Olympic Committee, 1972 Olympic diving gold medalist Ulrika Knape, said she was proud to be one of the participants.

"It is a great honor to be able to do this, it's a special feeling," she said. "To me, the Olympics are so big, so grandiose, because they unite the whole world."

The torch relay starts at 11:30am (0930 GMT) in Sollentuna, at a memorial to the 1912 Summer Games. It will be passed on by 128 people who will jog 400m apiece before handing it off to the next runner.

The torch will be carried by several politicians, athletes, notable citizens and Prince Carl-Phillip, among others.

As it got underway, the torch was carried along the city streets, but also aboard three canoes gliding along several of Stockholm's waterways. On one section of the relay, torchbearers carried the flame as they guided their wheelchairs along the street.

It will pass by several key spots, including Stadion, the site of the 1912 games.

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