December 17 - History was made today in Athens, where the flame for the first Winter Youth Olympic Games, taking place in Innsbruck next month, was lit – the first time that the flame has been lit for three Olympic events in the same city.

Innsbruck has hosted the Winter Olympics twice, in 1964 and 1976, and next month hosts the first ever Winter Youth Olympics from January 13 until 22.

In keeping with tradition, the flame was lit by sun rays reflected in a parabolic mirror and passed to the first runner from the ancient Panathinaiko Stadium.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge was at the lighting ceremony along with Norbert Darabos, the Austrian Sports Minister, and Austrian Olympic Committee President Karl Stoss.

Peter Bayer, the Innsbruck 2012 chief executive, and the Games' chairman Richard Rubatscherwere also in attendance.

Rogge said: "The flame and relay symbolise the values and ideals that lie at the heart of the Olympic Movement.

"They embody excellence, friendship and respect and they are the spark that will ignite the passion and magic of the first Winter Youth Olympic Games.

"At its essence, the Youth Olympic Torch Relay will inspire new hopes and new dreams, particularly among young people, and encourage the world to experience the Youth Olympic Games along with the athletes."

The flame will continue its journey from Greece, reaching Austria on December 27, and in total it will be carried by 2012 torchbearers on its journey until the opening ceremony at the Bergisel Stadium.

By David Gold