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The Olympic torch heads to Britain

Princess Anne of Britain hands over the torch with the olympic flame to be prepared for the journey to London during the handover ceremony of the Olympic flame for the 2012 London Olympics at the Panathenaic stadium in Athens on May 17, 2012. AFP PHOTO / LOUISA GOULIAMAKI (Photo credit should read LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP/GettyImages)
LOUISA GOULIAMAKI
Princess Anne of Britain hands over the torch with the Olympic flame to be prepared for the journey to London at the Panathenaic stadium in Athens on May 17, 2012.
LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP/Getty Images

(CBS/AP) The Olympic torch has been officially passed to London.

At a rainy ceremony inside the ancient Panathenaic stadium in Athens, the Olympic flame was presented to the organizers of the 2012 London Olympics.

Pictures: Olympic torch handed over to London
Special Section: London Olympics 2012

"The flame belongs to the world," London Olympic chairman Sebastian Coe said. "The arrival of the flame in the host nation is a clarion call to the athletes and young people in more than 200 nations and territories preparing to gather for the London 2012 Games."

There were jokes about the pouring rain -- more London than Athens weather  -- with London Mayor Boris Johnson teasing that everyone would just have to get used to it.

The flame was lit last week at the Temple of Hera in Olympia, and has been making its way around Greece in a relay.

British soccer star David Beckham, who was mistakenly introduced as "Sir David Beckham" causing in-the-know Brits to laugh, drew a great applause as he, Princess Anne and other dignitaries prepared to take the flame back to England.

The flame will fly Friday -- with its own seat and security agent -- on British Airways Flight 2012, an Airbus painted gold at the nose, to a naval air station in Cornwall, before the Royal Navy flies it to Land's End, the furthest point west in England.

Once in Britain, the flame heads off Saturday on a 70-day relay -- an Anglophile's dream tour that ventures through hill and dale to embrace everything from cool Britannia to Stonehenge. The journey ends at London's Olympic Stadium for the July 27 opening ceremony.