David Beckham will help bring the Olympic flame back to Britain on a golden plane on Friday after he takes part in a formal handover ceremony in Athens, London 2012 organizers said.
The former England soccer captain, a London 2012 ‘ambassador’ who was on the bid team in 2005 and is hoping to play in a united British side at the Games, will team up with the official delegation and return with them on British Airways ‘Flight 2012’.
Britain’s Princess Anne, a member of the International Olympic Committee, LOCOG Chairman Seb Coe, London Mayor Boris Johnson and Hugh Robertson, minister for Sport and the Olympics, arrived in Athens on Wednesday on “The Firefly’ – a golden liveried Airbus 319.
The flame is due to be handed over to London by the president of the Greek Olympic Committee, Spyros Capralos, at the Panathenaic Stadium which hosted the first modern Games in 1896, at the end of a Greek torch relay.
The visiting delegation, without Beckham, attended a torch ceremony at the Parthenon in Athens on Wednesday evening where a cauldron was lit under a cloudless blue sky for the flame to ‘rest’ overnight.
An elderly male runner, in white vest and clutching the golden torch aloft, climbed the stairs through an olive grove to the Temple Of Hera for the lighting.
The flame will arrive in Britain at Culdrose naval base in Cornwall on the south-west tip of England for a welcome ceremony before triple Olympic gold medal-winning sailor Ben Ainslie starts the relay in Britain from Land’s End on Saturday.
Beckham, now 37 and playing for LA Galaxy in the United States, will be joined in Athens by five young Britons invited by organizers LOCOG and the British Council in recognition of their commitment to sport and promoting Olympic values