17th May, 2012
London 2012’s own Posh and Becks will receive the Olympic flame and bring it back to the UK this week when David Beckham joins the Princess Royal at the official handover ceremony in Athens.
The former England captain will make the first official Olympic appearance of what could be a busy summer on Thursday alongside Princess Anne in the UK delegation that will receive the flame in the historic Panathenaic Stadium in the Greek capital.
The Princess Royal, president of the British Olympic Association and a former Olympian, will formally accept the torch in Athens, and will also carry the flame in a lantern off the plane onto UK soil in Cornwall on Friday evening.
The princess, along with Beckham and a delegation including Sebastian Coe, will fly home with the flame on a specially commissioned plane, BA2012.
Anne has been selected to receive the torch to reflect her position as President of the British Olympic Association and a former Olympian, as well as the Queen’s daughter.
The successful London 2012 bid started with the BOA so it is appropriate that it should be responsible for bringing the flame, lit last week from the rays of the sun in Olympia, to the UK.
Beckham’s presence is designed to boost interest and enthusiasm for the 70-day torch relay that will begin on Saturday morning at Land’s End and cover 8,000 miles on its way to the Olympic Stadium in Stratford on July 27.
He is a London 2012 ambassador and was a member of the bid team in Singapore in 2005, and is hopeful of a place in Stuart Pearce’s GB football team for the Games. Like the Olympic torch, he is also sponsored by Samsung, and this is unlikely to be his last appearance in the vicinity of the flame.
He will not actually carry the torch in the next two days, raising the prospect of his returning to the relay at some stage. He will be among the candidates, albeit a controversial one, to light the Olympic cauldron in the stadium.
As well as Anne and Beckham, the London 2012 delegation will include the sports minister Hugh Robertson and London mayor Boris Johnson, and a number of young people who have taken part in London 2012’s Get Set Education program.
They will receive the flame in the Panathenaic Stadium at 5pm UK-time on Thursday at the end of its seven-day relay around Greece. It will arrive at the Acropolis this evening and stay overnight in the Parthenon. On Friday it will be flown home, arriving at RNAS Culdrose at around 7.30pm.
Sebastian Coe, chairman of Locog, said: “We wanted to involve young people from across the UK in bringing home the Olympic flame.
“Their stories of personal achievement and contribution to sport echo the 8,000 inspiring torchbearer stories that will be shared from this weekend and over the next 10 weeks in the build up to the start of the Games. Working with one of our most inspiring sportspeople is also fitting for this hugely exciting time for the London 2012 Games.”