Athens: The flame for the first Winter Youth Olympic Games to be hosted in Innsbruck, Austria in January 2012 was lit in a ceremony held at Panathinaiko Stadium in Athens.

At the historic venue where the first modern Olympics in 1896 were held, Greek actress Ino Menegaki, in the role of the High Priestess, Saturday ignited the flame out of a concave mirror by using the sun's rays and prayed to Apollo, God of the Sun in Greek mythology.

The ritual ceremony was conducted following the tradition of the Lighting of the Flame for the Olympic Games which was held at Olympia, the birthplace of the Games.

After a dance performance, Menegaki ignited the torch of the Games with the flame which was carried in a replica of an ancient urn and handed it over to the first torchbearer Greek athlete Christos Metaxotos, kicking off the torch relay inside the stadium.

The ceremony ended with Greek Olympic Committee President Spyros Kapralos passing the flame to Richard Rubatscher, the head of the Innsbruck Games Organising Committee.

The first Winter Youth Olympic Games will run Jan 13-22, 2012,  with the participation of approximately 1,100 athletes aged between 14 and 19 from over 65 countries. The first Summer Youth Olympics were hosted successfully in Singapore in 2010.

(Agencies)