Organizers of the 2012 Olympics say soccer star David Beckham is bringing the Olympic flame back from Greece as the torch begins an 8,000 mile (12,875km) tour across Britain.

Beckham, who plays for the Los Angeles Galaxy in the United States, will join officials at a handover ceremony in Athens on Thursday.

Organizers said Wednesday that the former England national soccer team captain will then carry the torch back to the U.K. on a flight Friday, along with Princess Anne and other officials.

Beckham was part of the delegation that helped London secure the Summer Games ahead of a 2005 vote.

A total of 8,000 people will carry the torch during a 70-day relay that will begin in Cornwall, southern England, and reach the Shetland Islands, off Scotland's north coast.