The Olympic flame arrived in England today, sparking what will be a 70-day, 8,000-mile tour of the UK towards London and the opening ceremonies on July 27.
Soccer star David Beckham, Princess Anne, London Mayor Boris Johnson and LOCOG chairman Sebastian Coe landed at a Cornwall military base aboard a gold-colored British Airways jet.
Beckham – called instrumental in London winning the Olympic bid eight years ago – lit a special cauldron in Cornwall.
“We’ve got some very special people carrying the torch, and it’s going to be a proud moment for them. If I was to be one of those carrying in London, it would be very special for me,” he said, according to The Guardian.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and a group of about 500 met the flight – BA2012 – at the base.
The torch relay officially begins on Saturday, and will pass within 10 miles of 95 percent of England’s population, according to Games organizers.
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The athlete to begin the relay is three-time Olympic gold medal-winning sailor Ben Ainslie, BBC said.
“To have the flame on home soil gives everyone a chance to feel close to the Olympics and build up to the Games themselves,” he told BBC.
Actresses playing high priestesses lit the flame using mirrors to reflect the sun during a ceremony in Greece two weeks ago.
After a quick tour around Greece, officials there passed it to the English delegation on Thursday.
It traveled aboard the airplane in several small lanterns.
Coe said as many as 9 million people will line the torch route before it arrives at Olympic Stadium on July 27 to begin the Games.
Many of those who will carry the flame will represent the community they will run through.
“People are going to come out and see their local coach, their local teacher or policeman. There is an emotional connect that I am not sure that all torch relays have got,” Coe told The Telegraph.
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