Canada receives Olympic flame
The Greek, Olympic and Canadian flags fly near the Olympic
flame as it burns in a cauldron on top of the Acropolis in Athens
prior to Thursday's handover. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)
The Olympic flame is now in Canadian hands.
The Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, including Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean, were entrusted with the flame at a ceremony at Panathinaiko Stadium in Athens on Thursday.
The final torchbearer in the Greek portion of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic torch relay was Nikki Georgiadis, a Greek-Canadian figure skater and an Olympic hopeful in ice dance.
Georgiadis brought the Olympic flame into the stadium, where the Hellenic Olympic Committee handed it over to Canadian officials.
The symbolic flame will arrive in Victoria on Friday via a Department of Defence chartered aircraft for the start of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic torch relay across Canada.
The 106-day torch relay will be the longest domestic torch relay in Olympic history, travelling over 45,000 kilometres across the country before ending in Vancouver for the opening ceremonies of the Games on Feb. 12.
Olympic flame to touch down in Victoria
ATHENS - When the Olympic flame touches down in Victoria aboard a Canadian Forces jet Friday morning with an entourage of politicians and media, it will be accompanied by a crate of garbage.
Actually, 675 pieces of recyclable metal, to be exact.
For eight days the flame travelled across Greece after it was lit Oct. 22 in Ancient Olympia. And for eight days, Patrick Tremblay, an employee of Bombardier, the maker of the Vancouver 2010 torch, has been gutting torches after they have been used. At the end of each torchbearer's run he quickly opens the casing, strips out the fuel tank and piping to disable it from future use, and hands it back to the runner.
But those tanks and piping have to be disposed of, and the Vancouver Organizing Committee decided to bring them back to Canada for proper disposal, said Jim Richards, the director of torch relays. Vanoc shipped over 675 of the torches to be used on the Greek leg of the relay. But it didn't want to try and find a place to recycle the fuel canisters once the torches were used.
"We decided it was easier to simply bring them all home with us," Richards said. "The tanks will be properly emptied of excess fuel and then the material will be recycled."
By doing that Vanoc and Bombardier also make sure that no one can rebuild the torches to be used again, but Richards said that wasn't the prime reason.
"It's all being done in an environmentally-friendly way," he said. "It's part of our sustainability commitment."
Read Jeff Lee's Olympics blog at www.vancouversun.com/insidetheolympics