The flame that will burn at the Olympics in Sydney yesterday began its longest journey to the Games - a more than three-month route through Greek villages, South Pacific isles, the arid Australian Outback and even under the waves on the Great Barrier Reef.
But for the second time in two years, the flame failed to ignite during a rite held at the Temple of Hera, one of the most important monuments in Olympia, southern Greece.
The event also was disrupted by complaints following a decision to have Sophie Gosper, the 11-year-old-daughter of Kevan Gosper, the International Olympic Committee vice-president, become the first Australian to carry the boomerang-shaped torch, instead of a Greek-Australian schoolgirl.
The first Australian torch bearer was expected to be the 15-year-old Yianna Souleles, who travelled to Olympia with her classmates from Saint Spyridon College in Sydney. Souleles took the torch in a later stage. Souleles denied she was disappointed. "It is still an amazing thing we are here and they are letting us do this," she said.