Sochi 2014: Olympic torch to begin epic trip as outer space beckons

Story highlights

  • Greece hands over the Olympic flame to Russia ahead of Sochi 2014 Winter Games
  • The torch will begin an epic journey on Monday, even going into outer space
  • It will cover 65,000 kilometers and be carried by 14,000 torchbearers
  • Russia hopes 90% of its population will in some way experience the relay

The Olympic flame is about to start the longest journey in the history of the Winter Games after the torch was passed from Greece to Russia on Saturday.

The Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee took possession at the official Lighting Ceremony in Athens ahead of its 123-day journey across Russia, which will encompass 65,000 kilometers until the competition begins in February.

"We are proud to receive the Olympic flame, an important symbol of the Olympic Games," said Dmitry Chernyshenko, President of the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee.

"The countdown to the Games starts here! During this relay, the flame will visit over 3,000 towns and cities in across Russia. We want to ensure that all residents of Russia will feel involved in the Olympic celebrations and the unifying power of the flame."

Read: Will social media foil Putin's grand plan?

As well as the conventional means of travel -- running -- Chernyshenko said the torchbearers will use Russian troikas, dog sleds, deer-drawn sleighs, snowmobiles, air-balloons, aircraft and trains, according to a report by the state-run Voice of Russia.

Sochi 2014: The torch begins its journey
Sochi 2014: The torch begins its journey


    Sochi 2014: The torch begins its journey


Sochi 2014: The torch begins its journey 03:04
Will Sochi be the most connected Games?
Will Sochi be the most connected Games?


    Will Sochi be the most connected Games?


Will Sochi be the most connected Games? 04:16
Sochi Games: Need help with Russian?
Sochi Games: Need help with Russian?


    Sochi Games: Need help with Russian?


Sochi Games: Need help with Russian? 02:08
Could Russia arrest gay athletes?
Could Russia arrest gay athletes?


    Could Russia arrest gay athletes?


Could Russia arrest gay athletes? 01:30

It said the Olympic torch will be taken under water in Lake Baikal, and to the top of Europe's highest peak, Mount Eblrus.

It will also go to the North Pole on a nuclear-powered icebreaker and leave Earth to visit the International Space Station.

The Sochi 2014 relay website said that 130 million Russians -- some 90% of its population -- will have the chance to watch or participate directly in the relay, which begins in the Black Sea resort on Monday.

Read: Sochi - Russia's field of dreams?

Some 14,000 torchbearers will carry it through 2,900 settlements of 83 regions of the country, finishing in Sochi on February 7.

The flame was lit last Sunday in Greece, the birthplace of the ancient Games, and made its way through 33 towns before the ceremony in Athens.

Greek figure skater Panagiotis Markouizos lit the torch cauldron and passed the flame to a Russian party led by Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak.

On Sunday it will travel to Moscow accompanied by six-time Olympic speed skating champion Lidiya Skoblikova.

The biggest torch relay in the history of the Olympics is the 137,000 km trip around China for the 2008 Beijing Summer Games, which required 21,880 bearers.

      Aiming for Gold

    • intv davies sochi iconic olympic images_00022301.jpg

      Sochi 2014: The verdict

      With the Olympic cauldron now extinguished, CNN takes a look at whether Russia's $50 billion Sochi budget was money well spent.
    • Canada's Sidney Crosby scores past Sweden's goalkeeper Henrik Lundqvist during the ice hockey final at the Bolshoy Ice Dome during the Sochi Winter Olympics on February 23, 2014.

      Sochi's top-10 sporting moments

      The athletes on show in Sochi provided moments of drama and destiny that captured the imagination and settled in the collective memory.
    • Norway's Ole Einar Bjoerndalen competes in the Men's Biathlon 15 km Mass Start at the Laura Cross-Country Ski and Biathlon Center during the Sochi Winter Olympics on February 18, 2014, in Rosa Khutor, near Sochi. AFP PHOTO / ALBERTO PIZZOLI (Photo credit should read ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images

      Here's Sochi's real winner

      Russia may have topped the medals table at the first Winter Olympics it staged, but which country was most successful per capita?
    • SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 08: Katie Uhlaender of the United States shows a bald eagle design on her helmet as she prepares to make a run during a Women's Skeleton training session on Day 1 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at the Sanki Sliding Center on February 8, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

      Sochi: The coolest gear on show

      From eye-popping helmet designs to F1-influenced bobsleigh, the Sochi offered a bewildering array of technological innovation.
    • Fireworks explode over the Olympic park at the end of the closing ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympics on February 23.

      Sochi's artistic ending

      Sochi's closing ceremony took an artistic look at Russian culture before the Olympic flag was handed over to South Korea for the 2018 Games.
    • The world's most expensive road?

      Critics say it would have been cheaper to coat this Russian road with caviar but will the route made for Sochi reap long-term rewards?
    • Tomas Portyk of the Czech Republic jumps during the Nordic Combined Individual Large Hill official training on day 10 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at RusSki Gorki Jumping Center on February 17, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

      360-view of Sochi ski jump

      Navigate your way around this spectacular 360-degree picture from Sochi's ski-jumping venue at the Winter Olympics -- and find out how it was created.
    • 'Come vacation in Sochi ... please!'

      Sochi's transformation has left even the local cab drivers a bit lost and confused -- but don't let that put you off visiting this rejuvenated Black Sea resort.
    • March of Sochi's sun athletes

      For a Winter Olympics, there are some very colorful characters from some very tropical climates taking part -- including this "Mariachi" skier.
    • Gold medalist Jamie Anderson of the United States and bronze medalist Jenny Jones of Great Britain celebrate during the flower ceremony for the Women's Snowboard Slopestyle Finals during day two of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park on February 9, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

      The Olympics is their playground

      If snowboarders were an introduction to a younger, hipper, "slacker" generation of Olympians, the next wave has taken it to another level.
    • A prop from the Winter Olympics opening ceremony.

      Sochi: Russia's paradise lost?

      It has been dubbed Russia's Las Vegas. But has Sochi's massive renovation come at a cost to the region's stunning natural environment?