ATHENS (Staff Report) – The Olympic flame has been handed over to the Brazilian authorities in a prestigious ceremony held in Athens.

The torch will arrive in Brazil next week and then travel around the country ahead of Olympic Games to be held in Rio de Janeiro in August this year.

During the Rio 2016 Olympic Torch Relay, the Olympic flame will be carried by around 12,000 torchbearers in over 300 cities and towns across Brazil.

The Olympic flame is an important symbol in the history of the Olympic Games, representing peace, unity and friendship. The flame is carried via the torches in a great relay, taking the Olympic message beyond the host city and ending with the lighting of the cauldron at the Games Opening Ceremony.

For Rio Olympics, special design of the torch was picked up by a group of experts, which is inspired by the warmth of the Brazilian people.

It also features movable segments that expand vertically to reveal the colours of Brazil when the Olympic flame is passed from one torchbearer to another.

The triangular shape of the torch, meanwhile, alludes to the three Olympic Values of excellence, friendship and respect. The floating effect of its different segments represents the efforts of the athletes.