"The Olympic Games ... should inspire the people of the world and especially the political authorities by showing them that quarrels and conflicts can be addressed with peaceful means," Bach said before the ceremony. "I think it will have a very positive effect on Russia. It will show a new Russia to the world and also open up civil society."
Sochi organizers promised the torch route would be within an hour's travel of an estimated 90 percent of Russia's population
"There is no greater privilege than to stand here in the spiritual home of the Olympic Movement," Dmitry Chernyshenko, chief organizer of Sochi 2014, said at Ancient Olympia. "This is the beginning of an epic journey for the Olympic Torch, a journey that will change Russia forever."
The weekend ceremony was overshadowed by the arrest in Athens of the leadership of the country's far-right Golden Dawn party on charges of forming a criminal organization.
The Greek leg of the relay will cover around 1,250 miles until an Oct. 7 handover ceremony in the Panathenian Stadium in Athens, venue of the first modern Olympics in 1896.
Some 2,800 athletes from more than 80 countries are due to compete at Sochi.