Turmoil 'won't put out flame'
The economic and political turmoil currently gripping Greece will not ruin the ancient ceremony to light the Olympic Flame, Seb Coe insists.
The London 2012 chairman, in Ancient Olympia for the historic ceremony which starts the global countdown to the Games, said: "Whatever the current difficulties are, you can't overshadow 33 centuries of the most extraordinary history, particularly of sport and the Olympic movement .
"I recognise that these are difficult times for people around the globe but I think this stands above any current situation."
Lord Coe, a two-time Olympic 1500m champion, said: "I was very lucky to represent my country at two Olympic Games and that would not have happened with the history of the ancient movement here. "
The final rehearsal for the lighting of the flame that will burn at the London 2012 Games took place in baking sunshine at the birthplace of the ancient Olympics yesterday.
Tourists and locals watched in silence.
It went without a hitch but most importantly, its main purpose in creating a back-up flame was achieved. It can be used if today's flame lighting in front of the Temple of Hera is not successful.
With the 2012 Olympic opening ceremony set for July 27, Lord Coe described the lighting as a "rallying call".
"It is really the beginning of the Games," he said.
For someone who has successfully switched from being a track and field athlete to being sports executive and now an Olympic committee organiser, the lighting of the flame was simply "a really big moment," Lord Coe stated.
Being in the historic setting was "extraordinary", he said adding: "I was very privileged to compete in two Olympic Games, the modern manifestation of those Games, but to be at the cradle of the Ancient Games is really big.
"It is a big moment for anybody but I think it is particularly a big moment for anyone who has been to an Olympic Games."
All of this is being played out to the background of Greek instability on the back of cuts and austerity measures, unemployment, a shattered healthcare system and devastated families.
Investors have been particularly spooked by Sunday's election in Greece, which resulted in a split parliament where no party looks like it will be able to form a government.
The two parties that governed as a coalition for the past six months were pummelled to the benefit of more extreme parties of the right and left.
A period of uncertainty looms for the bailed-out country, which is in its fifth year of recession and has more than half of its youth out of work following big spending cuts and tax increases in return for crucial international bailout funds.
If no government can be formed that can command a majority in parliament, another general election within the next two months seems possible.