By Maria Spiliopoulou
ANCIENT OLYMPIA, Greece, Oct. 24 (Xinhua) -- The Olympic Flame that will be burning for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics started its journey on Tuesday from the birthplace of the Games at ancient Olympia in western Greece after a flawless ritual ceremony.
Due to the cloudy and rainy weather, changes were made in the program of the flame lighting ceremony.
Greek actress Katerina Lehou in the role of a High Priestess, who stood before the 2,500-year-old Temple of Hera, a goddess in ancient Greek mythology, did not use this time a concave mirror to ignite the torch with the sun's rays.
Instead at 12:33 local time, she lit the torch from a replica of an ancient urn where the Sacred Flame was kept from Monday's successful dress rehearsal.
Following a dance performance by dozens artists on the slope of the ancient stadium which hosted the first Games 25 centuries ago, the High Priestess passed the torch to the first torchbearer, Greek cross country skier Apostolos Angelis, along with a branch of olive tree.
Another dancer released a white pigeon to spread the Olympic ideals of friendship and peace to the world.
Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos, South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon, the President of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach, the President of the Organizing Committee of the PyeongChang Games Lee Hee-beom and other Greek and foreign officials attended the ceremony.
The first South Korean torchbearer who received the flame burning for the Feb. 9-25 Winter Olympics from the Greek athlete was veteran football player Park Ji-sung.
The first leg of the relay across Greece will end next week in Athens. The Sacred Flame will be delivered on Oct. 31 to the South Korean organizers in a Handover ceremony at the marble Panathinaic stadium which hosted the first modern Olympic Games in 1896.