Backup Olympic torch to be lit - 3/23/2008
In a final rehearsal at noon Sunday, a Greek actress in the white gown and sandals of a pagan high priestess will use the sun's rays to kindle the torch for the 2008 Olympics, among the ruins of the ancient games' birthplace.
That flame will be sent to China if storms forecast for Monday scuttle the official lighting ceremony beside the 2,600-year-old Temple of Hera in ancient Olympia.
Clouds spoiled the ceremony for the Sydney 2000 Summer Olympics and the last three Winter Olympics.
To be quite sure, a backup flame was lit at a rehearsal Saturday.
But bad weather is not the only headache for the mock-ancient ceremony's organizers -- who took the rare step of moving Monday's event an hour back to avoid rainstorms.
Some 1,000 police will surround Ancient Olympia to keep pro-Tibetan protesters away from the flame-lighting, which International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge is scheduled to attend.
Tibetans and their supporters have protested in cities around the world against China. Some fear the arrival of the Olympic torch -- scheduled to travel through 20 countries before the Beijing Olympics open on Aug. 8 -- could spark violent protests against China.
Others are calling for heads of state, dignitaries and corporate sponsors