She then passed the flame to the first relay runner, Greek skier Apostolos Angelis, who ran with it for a short distance before handing over to former Manchester United soccer player Park Ji-sung, a South Korean.
From the verdant, rain-soaked valley of Ancient Olympia, where the Games of antiquity were held for more than a thousand years, the flame will course through Greece for eight days and reach South Korea on Nov. 1.
Despite tensions between the U.S. and North Korea — with which the south remains technically at war — organizers insist there is no fear for the Feb. 9-25 Winter Games.
“We want the international community to understand that we are committed to hosting a safe and secure” Games, organizing committee chief Lee Hee-beom said during Tuesday’s lighting ceremony.
The ski resort town of PyeongChang lies about 50 miles south of the world’s most heavily armed border that divides the two Koreas.
The International Olympic Committee has also stressed that there is no cause for concern. IOC president Thomas Bach made no direct reference to the tensions Tuesday, only saying during his speech that the Games “stand above and beyond all the differences that divide us.”
Normally, the flame-lighting ceremony involves the priestess offering a token prayer to the dead pagan gods of Olympia — a major ancient Greek sanctuary — before using a bowl-shaped mirror to focus the heat of the sun’s rays on her torch.
But with rain forcing officials to huddle under umbrellas, there was no hope.
“Sorry for the rain,” Greek Olympic Committee chief Spyros Capralos joked.
The Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA will stream live coverage of the Olympic flame lighting ceremony on Tuesday at the ancient Olympic site of Olympia in Greece.
Coverage on OlympicChannel.com and the Olympic Channel app starts at 5 a.m. ET.
The flame lighting is the traditional beginning of the Olympic torch relay. The first torch bearer, traditionally a Greek, will be cross-country skier Apostolos Angelis, who has already qualified for PyeongChang.
The second torch bearer will be retired South Korean soccer star Park Ji-Sung, who played at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and seven seasons for Manchester United.
The flame will later fly from Greece to Incheon International Airport near Seoul for a 101-day trek through South Korea before the Feb. 9 Opening Ceremony in PyeongChang.
ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greek authorities say a wildfire has come within 1.2 miles of Ancient Olympia – birthplace of the Olympic Games – as several large forest fires continued to burn around the country.
Culture Minister Lydia Koniordou told state-run television that firefighters stopped the blaze in the Peloponnese region of southern Greece at the Alpheios River, south of Olympia, before the wind changed direction and pushed the fire away from the ancient site.
By nightfall on Wednesday, two water-dropping planes had been deployed along with dozens of firefighters and local volunteers.
Koniordou says the ministry had requested more resources to protect the site where an Olympic flame-lighting ceremony is held every two years for the Summer and Winter Games.
The area suffered extensive damage from major fires a decade ago.