J.W. Marriott Jr., chairman and chief executive officer of Marriott International, is joined by 1996 Gymnastics Olympic Gold Medalist Keri Strug (left), in raising the official flag of the Athens 2004 Olympic Torch Relay at Marriott's Washington, DC corporate headquarters. The flag-raising honors the June 4 start in Sydney, Australia, of the Relay. Marriott is the official lodging supplier of the historic global event. Looking on is Pam Jones, international vice president of training and organizational development.
The Olympic Torch Relay began at the 1928 Olympic Games with the lighting of a torch in Olympia, Greece by the rays of the sun. Once the Olympic Flame is ignited it is kept in a lantern that travels with the Relay. A torch is lit from the Flame each morning to start that day's leg of the Relay. The lantern is closely guarded to ensure that the Flame is never extinguished.