July 14, 2004

14 July 2004: The arrival of the Olympic flame on the island of Crete after a year-long relay around the globe marked the final lap in Greece's preparations to host the Games at their historical birthplace. Athens 2004 organising committee (ATHOC) president Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki is all smiles as she lights the Olympic cauldron in the ancient Minoan palace of Knossos, after announcing that all the venues for the Games were finally ready to welcome the world's athletes, barely one month ahead of a magnificent opening ceremony on August 13. But the Olympic torch, a symbol of peace meant to unite the world in the runup to the Games, also became an

instrument of crime­busting when a police helicopter that accompanied its airplane landing on the island of Crete spotted cannabis farms on July 14. 'The police helicopter was accompanying the flame on its journey, patrolling the skies above the actual torch relay route, when they spotted a cannabis farm near the town of Rethymnon, ' said the ministry of public order. 'They decided to stay and investigate, and eventually spotted other farms in remote areas outside the towns of Heraklion and Rethymnon with a total of around 7,000 cannabis plants, which is quite a good haul.' Now in the last phase of its tour around host-country Greece, the torch's $45 million journey around the world has had all the hallmarks of a presidential tour, with security surveillance, motorcades, movie stars, cheering crowds and a specially chartered jumbo jet, appropriately dubbed 'Zeus,' after the supreme deity of the ancient Greek pantheon, in whose honour the ancient Olympics were held every four years at the central Peloponnese town of Olympia,for more than a millennium since their opening in 776 BC.

Dimitris Yannopoulos

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(Posting date 18 August 2006 )

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