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Replica of ship to be featured

ATHENS, Greece -- The opening ceremony of the Athens Games
apparently will feature a life-size replica of a ship, and the
Olympic flame will burn in a giant copy of the torch used in the
global relay, The Associated Press has learned.

Photographs obtained by the AP on Thursday show two pieces cut
into the shape of a ship's hull being lowered into a hole in the
middle of the main Olympic stadium.

Olympic organizers refused to comment or give details about the
Aug. 13 opening ceremony, which is a closely guarded secret. But
they have not denied repeated reports that the stadium field will
be flooded in a spectacle to recreate Greece's interplay of sea and
land.

Earlier this month, officials in the central Greek city of Volos
told the AP they plan a ceremony next month built around the myth
of Jason and the Argonauts, raising speculation that it also could
be part of the Athens extravaganza. Volos is one of four cities
outside Athens hosting Olympic soccer matches.

In the Jason myth, the hero and his crew hunt for the legendary
golden fleece. A Volos-based journalist recently wrote a book
theorizing that Jason's companions were athletes who took part in
games that were forerunners of the ancient Olympics.

In Athens, the Olympic flame will burn atop a 100-foot tapered
column resembling the torch used in the worldwide relay, the
photographs showed. The structure, designed by Spanish architect
Santiago Calatrava, is fitted with a hinged base, suggesting it
could be tipped over to be lit and then repositioned upright.

Calatrava also designed the glass-and-steel roof being installed
over the 75,000-seat stadium.

Organizers have promised to finish work on the main stadium
complex by Tuesday, but landscaping and other touches are expected
to continue until just days before the Olympics.