The sun's rays were harnessed today to spark the flame that will travel some 40,000 miles to kick off Sochi's 2014 Olympic Games, reports the BBC, in a ceremony held in Olympus, Greece. The flame first passed to Russian hockey sensation Aleksandr Ovechkin, who carried the torch on the first leg of its planned 123-day journey, which will see it change hands about 14,000 times. The torch will travel to Europe's highest mountain, the bottom of a Russian lake, and even the International Space Station before the Sochi Games begin in February.
The lighting was not entirely focused on sport, with Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach seemingly knocking Russia's crackdown on gays by calling the torch a symbol of friendship free of "any form of discrimination." As per the AP, he continued: "The Olympic Games should inspire the people of the world and especially the political authorities by showing them that quarrels and conflicts can be addressed with peaceful means."