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article imageBrazil to get Rio flame on 100-day countdown

By AFP     Apr 27, 2016 in Sports

Greece on Wednesday will hand over to Brazilian officials the Olympic flame of the Rio Games as the 100-day countdown to the August 5 opening ceremony begins.

The ceremony, attended by Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Rio 2016 organising committee chairman Carlos Nuzman, will begin after 1400 GMT, the Hellenic Olympic Committee said in a statement.

The flame was kindled on April 21 in the 2,600-year-old Temple of Hera at Ancient Olympia, and ran a week-long relay on Greek soil.

Before landing in Brasilia on May 3, it will make a brief stopover in Switzerland.

It will be presented at the United Nations office in Geneva on Friday and placed on display over the weekend at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, the seat of the International Olympic Committee.

Some 12,000 torchbearers will then carry the flame through over 300 Brazilian cities ahead of the opening of the summer Games on August 5.

Olympic organisers this year are including references to the migration crisis gripping Europe.

President of the Hellenic Olympic Committee Spyros Kapralos (L) hands over the Olympic flame to Syri...
President of the Hellenic Olympic Committee Spyros Kapralos (L) hands over the Olympic flame to Syrian refugee Ibrahim al-Hussein (C), an amputee swimmer, at the Eleonas refugee camp in Athens on April 26, 2016
Louisa Gouliamaki, AFP

On Tuesday, a Syrian swimmer who lost his lower leg in a bombing carried the flame of the Rio Olympics through an Athens refugee camp.

Ibrahim al-Hussein, 27, carried the torch through Eleonas camp, where some 1,600 asylum seekers are being given temporary shelter amid Europe's worst migrant crisis since World War II.

The International Olympic Committee has also said a team of up to 10 refugees will take part at the Rio Olympics.

Some 40 athlete refugees have been identified by the IOC as possible contenders, with a selection to be made in June, a UN refugee agency source told AFP.

The torch harks back to the ancient Olympics, when a sacred flame burned throughout the Games. The tradition was revived in 1936 for the Berlin Games.

Brazil's preparations have been overshadowed by the government crisis caused by accusations that President Dilma Rousseff juggled government accounts to disguise budget shortfalls during her 2014 reelection.

But Brazilian and IOC officials have insisted that preparations are ahead of schedule and will not be affected by the political upheaval.

They have also played down crime concerns and fears over the quality of water in Rio bay to be used for yachting and part of the swimming events.

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