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Crisis will not affect Greek leg of torch relay

By Graham Wood

ATHENS (Reuters) - The effects of the Greek economic crisis will not spoil the country's leg of the 2012 Olympic Torch relay with officials announcing on Monday that it will be funded mainly by sponsors.

The Hellenic Olympic Committee (HOC) unveiled a route which will pass through 43 towns and travel 2,900 kilometers from May 10 to 17 before the flame is flown to the United Kingdom for a tour before the London Games start on July 27.

It will travel throughout most of the Greek mainland and the island of Crete after being lit in the traditional ceremony at Ancient Olympia in southern Greece on May 10.

Although the HOC did not give details of how much the Greek leg of the torch relay would cost, HOC president Spyros Kapralos told a news conference: "In these difficult economic circumstances that we are going through, it is essential to mention that the cost of the budget will not be borne by the public at all.

"The costs will be covered by sponsorships, the participation of local communities and individuals."

Spyros Zanias, the head of the torch relay in Greece, said: "Although the country has huge financial difficulties, as well as the HOC, we will not scale down on what we are going to do on Greek soil regarding the torch relay.

"We felt it was much more important to use the funds which have been provided to us so generously by various sponsors in bringing the flame all around the country in an effort to remind all our fellow compatriots of the importance of the torch, the importance of the Olympic Games, that everything started from here."

(Editing by Mark Meadows; mark.meadows@thomsonreuters.com; +44 207 542 7933; Twitter: @mark_meadows; Reuters Messaging: mark.meadows.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net;)

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