2010 VANCOUVER WINTER OLYMPICS

The Olympic torch leaves Greece for Vancouver

Four years after the Turin Winter Games, the Olympic torch was lit in Greece on Thursday at the start of an almighty 45,000 kilometre journey across Canada to reach Vancouver on February 12.

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REUTERS - The torch relay for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics got underway on Thursday, with the sun's rays igniting the silver torch during a brief break in the clouds at the ancient Olympic stadium.

It was the first time in the last four winter Games torch-lighting ceremonies that the back-up flame from the previous day's dress rehearsal at the site of the ancient Olympics did not have to be used.

The ceremony kicked off an eight-day torch relay throughout Greece, including the country's ski resorts, before the torch is handed over to Games organisers in the Panathenian stadium in Athens, site of the first modern Olympics in 1896.

On Oct. 30 the flame will arrive in Canada for the biggest-ever domestic relay, covering 45,000 kms and ending in Vancouver on Feb. 12, the date of the Games opening ceremony.

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