Portraying the "High Priestess" of ancient Greece, actress Maria Nafpliotou lights the flame by a reflection of sunlight on a parabolic mirror before sending it on. But the Olympic Torch relay hasn't been as serene as the Olympiad enactment shows. Those opposed to China's policies in Tibet and its overall human rights record have protested all along the torch's path.
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As the cauldron burns, it seemed more security officials than spectators lined Athens' Panathenian Stadium.
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Things were more secure in Tiananmen Square, where gold-medalist hurdler and Chinese favorite at this year's Games, Liu Xiang, held the flame high, officially kicking off the 2008 torch relay.
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The torch took on all forms of transportation to make its way through Almaty, a city that welcomed the flame for the first time ever. Skis, motorcycles, horses -- you name it, the flame took it.
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In the city's most touristic areas, nearly 200 Muslims staged protests as the torch traveled through Istanbul, Turkey. Police managed to keep the flame safe, though, fending off demonstrators along its path.
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St. Petersburg, Russia
After a grand ceremony at Palace Square, the torch began the third leg of its journey in St. Petersburg, Russia.
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Protesters were out in force in London, where the 80 torchbearers who carried the flame included five-time gold-medalist rower Steve Redgrave and runner Dame Kelly Holmes.
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Marathon world-record holder Paula Radcliffe was also among the many that carried the torch through the streets of London.
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Unfortunately, the torch didn't get to see much of the famed Parisian landmarks. After being extinguished three times by protestors, the flame finished its stint in France by bus.
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From protestors climbing the cables of the Golden Gate Bridge to hang their ''Free Tibet!'' banners, to the torch disappearing and the relay being rerouted, the Bay Area's Olympic scene was not the warm welcome the IOC was hoping for.
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Swarms of spectators and protestors gathered along San Francisco's Embarcadero awaiting the Olympic torch. But the torch was rerouted, and the thousands waiting to view (and perhaps pounce on) it never even got a glimpse of it.
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Buenos Aires, Argentina
After a string of riots and upheaval, the torch relay found some peace in Argentina, where it made its way around Buenos Aires amid thousands of supporters.
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Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
In what was the most peaceful leg of the torch relay thus far, Tanzania and its Olympic supporters trudged through flooded roads just to catch a glimpse of the flame.
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The mountainous backdrop of the only Middle Eastern capital along the torch's route created a postcard-like scene. In what was the most peaceful leg of the relay yet, the flame's stop in Muscat was greeted by thousands, who cheered and danced as it passed through their city.
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The Pakistani leg of the relay was hidden behind closed doors -- even the introductory ceremony -- as the threat of protesters lingered. Inside a sports stadium, the flame was received, the army band played, and a sea of balloons floated through the complex as sniffer dogs and security officials kept guard.
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New Delhi, India
India is home to the world's largest Tibetan exile community, so officials weren't taking any risks in protecting the torch from chaos and violence. The relay route was cut to less than two miles and 15,000 policemen were deployed to counter the thousands of protesters.
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Despite the numerous protesters who came out to the relay, the Olympic torch snaked its way through Thailand peacefully.
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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Small, isolated protests marred the flame's tour through the country, but other attractions in Malaysia included this parachutist who jumped from a TV tower.
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The Olympic flame's route was scaled back significantly as torchbearers ran in front of an invitation-only crowd and protesters rallied nearby.
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Dispute the hot air balloon ceremony to start the Australian leg of the relay, protesters gathered in Canberra to protest China's policies toward Tibet, disrupting the torch route and ceremonies, as the Olympic made its only stop in the continent.
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