London 2012: How The Torch's Journey Has Changed Since 1948

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The torch is to be handed over to the UK in an official ceremony in Athens on Thursday
The torch is to be handed over to the UK in an official ceremony in Athens on Thursday

As the Olympic flame, lit in Olympia last week, is brought over to the UK and relayed around Britain, it will be on a very different journey to London than when it was last there for the 1948 Games.

Back in 1948, the torch was brought to the UK via a sea trip from Greece to Italy, travelling through Switzerland and France and a trip over the Channel to England.

After being lit, the flame was taken direct from Olympia to the coast at Katakolon, then taken to Corfu by a Greek warship.

From Corfu, a British frigate carried the flame to Bari in Italy.

It was then taken on a continental journey including Switzerland Luxembourg and Belgium and by the time it got to Calais, France, the HMS Bicester, a destroyer, was in place to carry it to Dover.

This year, however, it will simply be guest of honour on board a gold-liveried Airbus 319, flight number BA2012, taking it from Athens to Britain.

Once in the UK, around thousands of torchbearers will run the torch around the UK. Three-time Olympic sailing champion Ben Ainslie is the first of 8,000 torchbearers who will carry it for 8,000 miles across to the start of the Games.

The torch relay will aim to take the flame with 10 miles of 95% of the population.

Compare that with the 1948 relay, which went through Dover, Canterbury, Maidstone, Guildford, Windsor and Uxbridge, sticking exclusively to the south of the country.

The torch is to be handed over in an official ceremony at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens, before returning home on a 70-day relay across the country before arriving at the Olympic Stadium in time for the opening ceremony.

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