Organisers plan to take Olympic flame underwater

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The Independent Online

The Olympic torch will be submerged in the sea on the Great Barrier Reef, off the east coast of far north Australia, during its journey from Athens, Greece, to Sydney for the 2000 Games.

Organisers of the Sydney Olympics today said underwater tests last week were successful.

Torch relay spokeswoman Di Henry said the torch would be taken from Palm Cove to Agincourt Reef on June 27 onboard a Quicksilver Connections catamaran and marine biologist Wendy Craig Duncan would carry the torch on a scuba dive.

Henry said it would be the first time the Olympic flame had travelled underwater on a torch relay.

"We're all about showcasing Australia and the Pacific and what better place to do this than the Great Barrier Reef," she said. "I saw the tests last week ... it worked very well."

The flare technology that will make the underwater journey possible was developed by Melbourne-based company Pains Wessex Australia.

Henry said the chemical formulation making it possible to keep the flame alight in air and water would be contained in a "pyrotechnic capsule" inside the torch.

"Obviously there's only so much fuel you can keep inside the torch, so Wendy will only be able to dive for about three minutes," she said.

The torch will be carried from Athens to Australia via the Pacific Islands and New Zealand. It will land at Uluru, in central Australia, in June to commence the final leg of the torch relay leading into the Olympics opening ceremony at Stadium Australia on September 15.