By Karolos Grohmann ,Reuters
ATHENS — The flame for this year’s London Olympics, scheduled to arrive in Britain on May 18, will land at a naval base in Cornwall before starting the torch relay that will end with the Games’ opening ceremony on July 27. Organizers said on Wednesday that the flame would arrive from Greece at the Culdrose base near Helston on board a gold-liveried British Airways Airbus, flight 2012. It is due to touch down in the early evening between 1730 and 1830 GMT. “It gives me great pleasure to confirm May 10 as the Flame lighting date and RNAS (Royal Naval Air Station) Culdrose as the Olympic Flame’s arrival point into the UK,” said LOCOG Chairman Sebastian Coe after Reuters had revealed planning details earlier. In the most recent Olympics of Athens in 2004 and Beijing in 2008, the flame arrived at the commercial airports of those capitals instead of military bases. The London Games flame will be lit using the sun’s rays on May 10 at the ruins of Olympia, Greece, site of the ancient Olympics before an eight-day Greek relay and the official handover ceremony in Athens for the start of the British leg. Organizers said the flame will be flown in a ceremonial lantern “that is secured in a specially designed cradle which is, in turn, firmly fixed to its seat on the plane using a secure holding device. “The lantern is designed so the Olympic Flame can burn safely for up to 30 hours.” The 70-day torch relay will travel from a starting point at Lands End, near the Culdrose search and rescue station, some 12,800 km around Britain, taking in 1,018 villages and the 1,085-meter summit of Snowdon. An estimated 1,000 guests, including media and members of the local community, are expected to welcome the Olympic Flame when it arrives in Britain. The relay will also take in landmarks around Britain with the flame traveling at times by canal boat, cable car, tram, steam train, hot air balloon and even motorcycle sidecar on the Isle of Man TT course.
More than 95 percent of the population will be within an hour of the route. London has chosen a lower profile relay than the protest-marred international route to Beijing in 2008, which included the problematic ascent of Everest. The flame will be carried by 8,000 torchbearers, taking in the outer reaches of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as well as the Irish capital, Dublin, before reaching its final destination at the Olympic Stadium in east London for the opening ceremony on July 27.